Where are They Now: Bernie Nicholls “Pumperknickel”

From 1981 to 1999, Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario played 18 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.

Bernie Nichols
Bernie Nichols

In an exciting new feature on the Independent Sports News, it is time to take a trip down memory lane and look back at some of Canada’s sports stars of the past. However, we will just not be looking back at the athletic excellence of these athletes. We will also find out what these athletes are currently doing on a day-to-day basis in their life after competition. In the first segment, we are featuring hockey player Bernie Nicholls.  

From 1981 to 1999, Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario played 18 seasons in the National Hockey League with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks. Nicknamed the “pumpernickel”, Nicholls had 475 goals and 734 assists for 1209 points.

Nicholls remembers the day he was drafted by the Kings in the fourth round, 73rd overall in the 1980 National Hockey League Entry Draft. His mother got the phone call.

“My first question was where? Being from small town Ontario, you had the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens (dominate the headlines). I don’t think I ever heard of the Los Angeles Kings. At the same token being drafted into the NHL was a dream. I was thrilled.”

Nicholls’ finest season came while with the Kings in 1988-89. During the first season that Wayne Gretzky was with the Kings, Nicholls had 70 goals and 80 assists for 150 points. His point total that season was only behind Mario Lemieux (199 points), Gretzky (168 points) and Steve Yzerman (155 points).

Nicholls also has the most points in one regular season among all National Hockey League players who have not yet been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. One might think he posted that high point total because he played regularly with Gretzky. Well, that assumption is incorrect. Nicholls did play on special teams with Gretzky, but played regularly with Luc Robitaille and Dave Taylor while Gretzky was his Kings’ teammate.

“People ask me all the time, what was it like to play with Wayne? I honestly say if you are a kid and think of Christmas morning, that is what it was like for me to play with Wayne. I hung out with Wayne every day. Every road trip he took me out to dinner. We were together all of the time. It was awesome.”

Nicholls’ 70 goals is a Kings record for a single season. He also has the Kings record for most assists in a game (six) and points in a game (eight). Nicholls set those records in a 9-3 Kings win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 1, 1988.

Since his retirement, Nicholls has stayed close to the hockey world. He spent time as an assistant coach with the Sharks and Kings and has been involved in NHL alumni charity events along the way. Nicholls still loves playing hockey.  

Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario
Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario

“Even to this day, if I go do a charity hockey game and put my hockey stuff on, I feel like a little kid. I absolutely love playing the game.”

However over the last few years, Nicholls has been involved in an interesting business endeavour. He is part owner of www.allsportsmarket.com with his cousin. Even though Nicholls lives in Las Vegas, www.allsportsmarket.com is not a gambling website.

With www.allsportsmarket.com, customers have the opportunity in buying shares in a professional sports franchise in one of the four major leagues in North America. What separates the website from the rest is your success within the company does not directly depend on whether a team wins or loses the previous night.

“To me that concept is brilliant,” explains Nicholls. “If your team loses, you do not lose your investment. You get to watch your investment every night. To me, I don’t think there is a better thing out there. You can invest in a team and hold on to them as long as you want or you can sell it whenever you want. Our company is a stock market for sports.”

Even though www.allsportsmarket.com is not a gambling website, the team’s success can help a franchise’s stock. For example, one team who Nicholls says should do strong over the next two years is the Edmonton Oilers. The reason is because of the Connor McDavid effect. Once the Oilers achieve more success on the ice, their stock will rise, and then it will be a good time to sell and choose another professional sports franchise that is about to show promise.

There is also the factor of dividends within www.allsportsmarket.com. Dividends are paid on a per share basis when your team wins.

“When you buy shares in your team, there is a dividends pool there,” explains Nicholls. “A percentage goes to a dividends pool. When your team plays my team and wins, you take a percentage of the dividend’s pool.”

Nicholls also loves living in Las Vegas with his wife Jill.

“It is a great place to live. The weather is good there and a lot of things to do. I enjoy playing golf year round.”

He also thinks the NHL’s experiment of expanding to Las Vegas will work.

“Absolutely. The Los Angeles Kings have had some exhibition games there before. They have a beautiful arena. Just because you live in Las Vegas, does not mean you are at the casino every day. A lot of people I know don’t gamble. It is a beautiful place to live. I think it will do well. Hopefully we won’t see an empty building.”

Nicholls is also an avid hunter. He spends a lot of time during the fall in Ontario with his brother. Nicholls’s family has owned a hunting farm in Ontario for 50 years and it is there where the Nicholls family hunts bears, deer and moose.

Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario
Bernie Nicholls of Haliburton, Ontario

For those athletes who have dreams of being professional hockey players, Nicholls encourages them not to play hockey year round. While growing up in Ontario, Nicholls played baseball and football.

“I hate seeing kids play hockey 12 months a year. I always tell kids to try other things and try other sports. I think it is better for your body.”

The advice that Nicholls gives athletes could also apply to people interested in his business. Through www.allsportsmarket.com, the customer also has an opportunity to invest in teams from multiple sports. They are not limited to invest in a single franchise in a single professional sport.