On Wednesday, Nov. 17, The Longhorn Saloon in Whistler hosted a live recording of The Gouche podcast to announce the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) 50th anniversary celebration that will be taking place in Whistler Oct. 6 to 9, 2022.
Despite not being a typical hockey town, event organizer Greg Beaudin chose Whistler more so for what it has to offer than its connection to the former hockey league.
“I think it just makes sense for the entertainment factor,” he said. “We didn't want to play favourites with a WHA city like Winnipeg or Boston. We wanted to make it a neutral place, and for us, Whistler is the No. 1 playground for adults in Canada and we wanted to be there and have everyone in close proximity where they don't need to drive. A lot of the older players, they'll just get there and then they won't need a car, it's all there for them.”
The event will bring to town many former WHA players from Canada and Europe with representatives from more than 12 WHA teams. Among the most notable attendees will be Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and Winnipeg Jet alumni Bobby Hull. Also set to make an appearance will be Norm Beaudin, one of the two linemates of Hull who made up the “century line,” which was the first line in professional hockey where each member scored 100 points. Also in attendance will be Alton White, the first Black person to play in the WHA.
According to Beaudin, the main event of the weekend’s festivities will be the alumni gala dinner, which will have tickets available to the public for sale at wha1972.com.
Other activities on the schedule include a golf tournament, a charity hockey game featuring some of the alum and their families, an all-ages floorball tournament, musical guests still to be determined and a screening of the movie Slap Shot at The Longhorn Saloon with members of the cast in attendance including at least two of the Hanson brothers.
If Steve Carlson, who played Steve Hanson in the movie, is not able to make the event due to his current battle with cancer, there will be an auction where people can bid to be the third Hanson brother for the day.
Also taking place over the four days will be an art show put on by artpucks.com, as well as a WHA memorabilia exhibit featuring game-worn jerseys, pictures, pucks and the Avco Cup.
Locations for each event will be announced closer to the date.