Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Juha Widing

In 1970 Imperial Oil Ltd. introduced their Esso Power Player promotion at gas stations across Canada. With every fill-up, drivers were given a packet of stamp-sized hockey “cards” for collection in a booklet (see above), also provided by Esso.

These cards were hugely popular when I was an eight-year-old, and the hardest card to find was Juha Widing, a centre for what was then the lowly Los Angeles Kings.

Although I never managed to find Juha for my booklet, Brian Smith did, and sometimes while walking near his house I would ask if I could look at him, rushing down the boards, his golden hair matching the piping of his mostly purple "road" uniform.

The Kings had unusual uniforms, the same colours as the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers, with whom they shared the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood. The Lakers were a winning team; the Kings were not.

The closest the Kings came to a Stanley Cup was in 1993, when Wayne Grezky led them to the final, only to lose to Montreal. By then the Kings had exchanged their purple and gold for silver, black and white, to match the National Football League’s Los Angeles Raiders.

I have remained a Los Angeles Kings fan since Imperial Oil’s promotion. And now, after forty-five years in the National Hockey League, the Kings have won the Stanley Cup.

While watching the team celebrate their Game Six victory last night, I saw lots of former Kings players, but not Juha. Players from his era were not included. But even if they were, he would not be among them. Juha Widing passed away in 1984, at the age of 37.

No comments:

Post a Comment