Date of Birth: 1924
Place of Birth: Kitchener, Ontario
Inducted: 2004 (Builder Category)
Nobody has more personal influence on hockey within Newfoundland and Labrador than Howie Meeker. With an astounding background of hockey knowledge and expertise, he jumped into the St. John’s and provincial hockey scene with a drive and determination to correct what he perceived as incorrect and to develop highly skilled local hockey players.
He was successful in the majority of his undertakings and despite upsetting some hockey people, made important contributions to the overall hockey picture, especially in the St. John’s area. Never hesitant to react to a situation as he felt he should, Howie Meeker was either loved or hated with no middle of the road response.
Arriving in St. John’s to discuss the recreation director’s position, he had played 388 games in the National Hockey League with four Stanley Cup titles and selection as the Calder Cup Rookie of the Year honors. As a coach, he handled the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1956-57 after winning the American Hockey League championship as coach of Pittsburgh. He had an overflow of hockey expertise.
It was with the Guards Athletic Association that he became involved in local hockey and he quickly produced a large group of young talented players. Between 1957 and 1976, Howie Meeker was a major figure within Newfoundland and Labrador hockey. His coaching contribution included high school, junior and senior in St. John’s and the St. John’s Capitals in provincial senior competition. He coached the Caps to a Herder Memorial Trophy provincial title in 1970 and later led the Feildians to a provincial intermediate crown. It was his overall coaching philosophy that had the biggest beneficial effect on local hockey and it enhanced the careers of many players. He was simply an excellent coach.
He served as president of St. John’s Minor Hockey Association and founded a high-level hockey school that was so good it was featured nationally on CBC television. Minor players from every area of Canada became better players because of Howie Meeker. His television and radio hockey career began with CJON where he quickly earned a reputation for always voicing his opinion, thus generating many changes for the better. His move to local CBC television quickly had him advance into NHL analysis where he continued to be open and frank and extremely opinionated.
In all his hockey activity Howie Meeker added greatly to the game on a local, provincial and national level. He earned election to the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame and prestige as winner of the 1998 Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for his colourful hockey commentary.
Because of the politics of St. John’s hockey, he did not have an opportunity to play very much hockey in Newfoundland and Labrador but as coach, as an administrator and certainly as an open-minded broadcaster, he contributed a great deal to the betterment of the sport within the province.