Aug 25,2014(ISN) – Several years ago, when the Rockets franchise had first moved to Kelowna, longtime
Saskatchewan hockey man Graham Tuer found himself unattached to a Western Hockey
He had been in the WHL, helping to build the Regina Pats organization (his name
hangs in the rafters in Regina’s arena) as the team’s head scout and assistant
But Tuer had decided to leave the organization and focus on his other duties, some
of which included working with the Saskatchwean Midget AAA league, the Saskatchewan
Development Model or with NHL Central Scouting.
The phone rang pretty quick. For when a hockey man like Graham Tuer is available,
he’s not going to be on the market for long.
“I really wasn’t out of it for very long, it was almost immediate,” said Tuer from
his home in Regina, where he stayed home to be with his wife this year, as opposed
to attend the Rockets rookie training camp. “Lorne (Frey, Rockets head scout) phoned
and asked me if I wanted to work with Kelowna and that was it.”
Over the years if it was happening in Saskatchewan hockey, odds are Graham Tuer was
involved. He has a bantam hockey tournament named after him in Regina, is in the
Regina Sports Hall of Fame and sits on the board of the Saskatchewan Development
Model, a body that represents all of Saskatchewan’s hockey leagues from the WHL to
minor hockey, with an aim to help Saskatchewan players better develop.
“We do a lot of work about education and moving players and we’ve been quite
successful in the province,” said Tuer. “I get satisfaction out of the fact you are
helping develop kids, doing things to make things better for the kids, like
education and all the good things that go on in the background that people don’t
think about but are very beneficial to the boys.”
This year Tuer remains home with his wife as the Rockets rookie camp takes place. He
has been to more rookie camps than he can keep track of and says it’s the
camaraderie with his fellow scouts and others in the game that he is missing.
“It’s amazing the relationships that develop and how they are maintained,” he said.
“You develop a relationship and you look forward to meeting with the scouts and
arguing with them. Sometimes it gets a little hot because you think one player is
better than another. I use the analogy of picking a girlfriend. It’s silly but it’s
something like that. Sometimes I just like a player better than another one and
other guys see it differently.”
A man of his word, Tuer knows the game of hockey front and back and speaks from the
KP: “Can I ask how old you are?”
GT: “Fairly old (laughs). I don’t talk about age because age doesn’t mean anything
to me. What you want to be on any given day is what you are. I’m very active. Too
KP: “Are there any players people may know who you have helped that are special to
GT: “There are lots of players that I have been involved with but honestly I just
never talk about it. When I see a player I think: ‘well I remember we really liked
him because he was a good kid, he worked hard.’ That is the highlight for me. Quite
honestly, what the heck kind of difference does it make (if I helped)?”
KP: “So what is it that you like in a hockey player?”
GT: “Number one the little bugger has to be hard working. I want a player that
devotes himself to being a success. It’s just like any other job….I like people who
devote themselves to the task at hand.”
One thing is for sure when it comes to Graham Tuer and that is that family means
A retired government employee, Tuer and his wife have four children: Two boys and
two girls. One son (Al) has followed in Dad’s footprint and is working in hockey as
a pro scout for the Florida Panthers. Tuer’s family has always been there to support
him as he drove from town to town watching hockey. They’ve done it together.
“My focus has mostly been on the management side of things,” he said, reminiscing
about his hockey life.
“I’ve helped one of my kids to participate in the game. I didn’t push him. It’s
always been a family thing. It was a family thing when I was a kid and it’s still a
family thing. My family support has been unbelievable. I talked to my daughter the
other day and she said ‘it’s great Mom has been able to help you do what you love to
do and that’s watching hockey.’
“It’s like anything: There are high days and low days but hockey has been great for
myself selfishly and great for my family as well.”
And so while Graham Tuer may be missing Rockets training camp this year, in two
weeks he will be back where he belongs – he hitches rides these day, usually with
the refs – as he heads to hockey rinks for NHL Central Scouting, and for the
Rockets, living the game of hockey.