Thursday, 13 March 2014

Ed Staniowski - Steady Eddy Returns Home

Becoming a Memorial Cup Champion, the first CHL Player of the Year and an NHL Draft pick are just a few of the highlights of Ed Staniowski’s hockey career.  One of, if not the, greatest goaltender in Regina Pats history, Staniowski’s number “1” hangs at the West End of the Brandt Centre among other Pats legends.  Out of all the achievements of his hockey career, Staniowski joked with Pats play-by-play man Phil Andrews that there was one thing missing.

“When you play the game of hockey, you hope to make junior, you do.  You hope to get drafted, you get drafted.  You hope to play in the NHL, you get a chance to do that.  Your hockey card comes out, and that’s pretty exciting… but I guess you really haven’t arrived until you’ve got your own bobblehead.”

Staniowski was back in Regina for his bobblehead night presented by Knight Archer Insurance.  The collectible was made in the likeness of Staniowski in his Pats’ days, meaning it bore some distinct differences from the 58-year old Moose Jaw native.  The trademark grin was unmistakable though as Staniowski took time to sign autographs for a massive line of fans who, by the end of the evening, had donated over $3,000 dollars to the Soldier On fund in support of returning wounded veterans.

In the line were long-time Pats fans, who like Staniowski, can still remember back forty years to the Blue and White’s previous Memorial Cup Championship.

“There was a lot of talent on that team,” recalled Staniowski.  That may have been an understatement considering some of the names that roster featured.  Clark Gillies (NHL Hall of Famer), Dennis Sobchuk (Third on the Pats’ all-time scoring list), Greg Joly (First Overall NHL Draft Pick) and the list goes on.

“I was fortunate enough to be the starting goalie in ’74 and ride that wave.  The great thing about playing goal behind a team that good is, no matter if you let in a bad goal they can go get it back for you.  If you were half-struggling, they were there for you.”

That year, the Pats were by no means favourites to win junior hockey’s biggest prize.  That said, the Pats steamrolled their way through Swift Current and Saskatoon before facing the heavily favoured Calgary Centennials.  Staniowski and the Pats took their series with Calgary in four straight games to win the west and defeated the Quebec Remparts and St. Catherines Blackhawks to win the teams’ third Memorial Cup.

As luck would have it, “Steady Eddie” was back on a Red Friday with the Pats sporting their third jerseys in honour of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry’s 100th Anniversary.  As a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, Staniowski appreciates the connection.

“There are some affiliations with regards to players, mascots, the city and the name, everything… the Lady (Patricia) Connaught.  There are a whole bunch of connections there.  When I finished playing with the Pats and went on to play pro, it became evident to me there was this connection.  I looked into it more and it’s great to see that affiliation back.”

So after the accolades, championships and, yes…. a bobblehead; it’s the people he has come to know in the Queen City who stand out to Ed Staniowski when he returns home to Saskatchewan.

“I had a chance to think on it on the plane on the way out here.  The great thing about Regina and going on to play in the NHL and then coming back here… it’s not about the accomplishments in the game.  It’s not even about the journey.  It’s about the people you meet along the way and they’re a great bunch of folks here.  It’s great to come back and see them all.”

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