Hockey world loses great friend as Graham Tuer dies at 87

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Graham Tuer (right) receives his Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame induction sweater on July 22 in his hometown of North Battleford. (Photo: Nathan Kanter/battlefordsNOW)

Graham Tuer, one of the most popular hockey people in Western Canada, died in a Regina hospital on Tuesday morning. He was 87.

Tuer battled health issues for the past couple of months. He entered hospital late last week after suffering two heart attacks.

Tuer was a man of smiles, one-liners and stories. Behind the sense of humour was a man who cared.


Jeff DeDekker (left) posted this photo with Graham Tuer on Facebook on Tuesday, with these words: “I took (this) photo last season and when I told him I was going to share it on social media to prove that I hung out with celebrities, he laughed and told me that I was the celebrity. He certainly knew how to make people smile.”

“I got to spend a lot of time with him in the rinks over the past few years and feel very fortunate that I got to know him,” Jeff DeDekker, the Regina Leader-Post’s entertainment co-ordinator, told Taking Note. DeDekker is a former Leader-Post sports writer who also is a minor hockey official and supervisor. “I’d be sitting up in the corner of a rink supervising officials and he’d wander up and sit down to chat. Made me laugh every time.”

I spent 17 years at the Regina Leader-Post so often had occasion to chat with him. I left Regina in the spring of 2000 and hadn’t seen him in a number of years when I was back there three years ago. My wife, Dorothy, was one year past a kidney transplant, and when I bumped into Tuer at a local arena, the first words out his mouth were: “How’s your wife?”

She was more than just my wife to him, too. He had gotten to know here in our early years in Regina when she worked at Walmart and he would bump into her. Yes, he was friends with her, too.

But that was Graham Tuer . . . a friend to the world.

“I had the pleasure of a two-hour coffee session with him last week and as usual he was full of life and infinite wisdom,” Brent Parker, the Pats’ general manager during Tuer’s first stint with the Pat, posted on Facebook. “He was truly one of a kind and as good a human being as I will ever meet. The world is a lesser place today and words can’t express how heartbroken I felt upon receiving the news of his passing!

“He used to bring a box of Ritz crackers and cheese on the bus and we would snack and talk and oh the stories he would tell!!”

Tuer was born and raised in North Battleford, living there for 21 years. He spent more than 50 years in and around Western Canadian arenas in various roles and with various teams, leagues and organizations.

Most recently, he worked for NHL Central Scouting and the Regina Pats. He returned to the Pats in 2015 as a scout and also as their liaison to Hockey Regina, the governing body for minor hockey in the provincial capital. Tuer had been the Pats’ assistant general manager and director of player personnel in the early 1990s.

He also scouted for the Kelowna Rockets from October 1998 through the 2014-15 season.

“We were very saddened this morning by the news of the passing of Graham,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, said in a news release. “He was a great friend of the Rockets organization, wonderful person, and a very valued scout. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Tuer family.”

Tuer was involved with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians for a number of years and was their manager when they won a national title in 1988. He also had been on the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s board of directors since 1983.

Hockey Regina honoured Tuer by naming an annual bantam tournament after him in 2007.

The WHL presented him with a Distinguished Service Award in 2010. In the spring of 2015, Hockey Canada presented him an Order of Merit (West).

Tuer was inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder on July 22 in North Battleford.

I can't thank everyone from HHOF and @sask_hockey enough for how they honoured dad. https://t.co/0s8I4XHAZT

— Greg Tuer (@greg2er) August 29, 2017

“For that to happen in the last month here,” Tuer’s son, Greg, told the Regina Leader-Post, “and for it to happen in his hometown where he grew up, it was a very special night and for all of us who were able to be there.

“He’s won all kinds of awards and hockey has really been his lover forever and he’s poured a lot into it — but he’s got way more back from it than he ever gave.”

Graham also is a member of the Regina Sports Hall of Fame.

“It’s a difficult day for all of us,” John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told The Leader-Post. “I didn’t know him the length of time most people did that I’m associated with now. But to me, three years knowing him, he has touched everybody that he ever met in a positive way.

“There’s a lot of men everywhere who know Graham that wish they could have lived their lives like he did. I can’t imagine that he ever said a bad word about anybody. That speaks volumes about him as a person. That’s more important than the contributions he made in hockey, which were many.”

Tuer was predeceased by his wife Verna. He is survived by four children — Donna, Kathy, Al and Greg — along with eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Plans for a memorial service are being finalized.

Rob Vanstone of The Leader-Post remembers Graham Tuer right here.

Much reflection today upon learning of Graham Tuer's passing. Other than my father I've never learned or respected someone more! RIP Graham

— Brent Parker (@Patguy65) August 29, 2017

Sad day to hear the passing of Graham Tuer. Condolences to the Tuer family. RIP Graham. God Bless. WHLIsFamily

— Robert (Bob) Tory (@BTORY) August 29, 2017

#SilvertipCountry mourns the loss of Graham Tuer, a legend across @TheWHL. pic.twitter.com/ZK5DIuMyiL

— Everett Silvertips (@WHLsilvertips) August 29, 2017

After hearing of Graham Tuer's passing, I am thankful I got to see him lots this past spring traveling to #Regina to cover #WHL playoffs.

— Darren Steinke (@StanksSports) August 29, 2017

The post Hockey world loses great friend as Graham Tuer dies at 87 appeared first on Taking Note.

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