From playing street hockey and on backyard rinks of the 400 block of Second Street East in Fort Frances from 1946-49, Art Berglund has become the most renowned spokesperson and authority on international ice hockey.
Jeremy Roenick stated that without Berglund as the patient and dedicated architect of U.S. teams since 1971, the United States would not be one of the top hockey powers in the world today.
At the USA Hockey Hall of Fame dinner and ceremony at the HSBC Arena on Oct. 21 in Buffalo, N.Y., Berglund received his fifth Sports Hall of Fame award.
Also honoured that evening were ex-NHL’ers Jeremy Roenick, Kevin Hatcher, and Derian Hatcher, along with sports doctor Dr. George Nagobads.
The inductees received rousing standing ovations from the 350 in attendance at the prestigious event, which was emceed by Steve Levy of ESPN.
Each of the inductees gave very detailed and memorable acceptance speeches, and this most appreciative audience hung on to each word.
Besides Berglund and his wife, Char, the gala evening included five former Fort Frances residents: his brother, Jon Berglund of Owatonna, Mn., and long-time friends, Bill Selman, 2005 inductee Keith “Huffer” Christiansen, WCHA commissioner Bruce McLeod, and former neighbour and fellow 1959 FFHS grad, Cliff Huber.
Another inductee from 1998, Mike “Lefty” Curran of International Falls, was present, as was Jim Craig, goalie of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team that won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Since leaving Fort Frances in 1959 to play college hockey in Colorado Springs, Berglund has been part of the game.
Previous Hall of Fame awards for Berglund include the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, the Colorado College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006, the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2008.
Berglund also has received the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award for outstanding contributions to hockey, the Jim Fullerton Award by the American Hockey Coaches Association for love of the game, and the USA Hockey Builders Award.
He concluded his speech of many career highlights, which exhibited a remarkable memory of names and places, with an anecdote from 1948 on a typical wintry Saturday night in Canada.
“After playing hockey on Second Street until bedtime, I came in to have a bath; then settled down to listen to the radio.
“At first, static flickered on the radio dial. Then a voice from hundreds of miles away was heard.
“‘Hello Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland. This is Foster Hewitt from the gondola high above the ice in Maple Leaf Gardens.’”
And so ended another day of boot hockey long, long ago.
Today, a dream that Berglund never could have envisioned has been fulfilled.
Emerging over the time of dedication and love for the game is Art Berglund, Mr. International Ice Hockey himself.
A builder. A legend.
“Thank you, friends, over all those great years. Thank you, Fort Frances!”