Why Fly to Yellowknife?

Our second night in Yellowknife, the five of us were sitting around the living room relaxing and someone asked, "What made you guys want to fly to Yellowknife?"

I responded that we had already flown up Hudson Bay, across the Arctic Ocean coastline and down the Pacific coast; and had wanted to explore the central Canadian arctic.

John said it was because of his going to University of Wisconsin Hockey games in the late 60s.

"There was a spectacular defenseman on the team from here. Every time they introduced him, the announcer added, 'From Yellowknife in the Canadian Northwest Territories ...'. Yellowknife has always sounded so exotic to me. What was that guy's name?"

I was on my computer doing flight planning, so I looked up "Wisconsin Hockey 1968 Yellowknife" and got a page full of hits. The top one gave the 1968-69 team roster and there he was,

Dan Gilchrist -- Defense -- Yellowknife, NWT

The second hit was from the LA Times - November 27, 1991 and sadly titled,

"PENGUIN COACH IS DEAD AT 60 : Hockey: Bob Johnson is remembered fondly, especially for his days at Wisconsin"

The obituary included a memory from one his players, goaltender Wayne Thomas, who remembered when Johnson was still selling hockey to the locals.

"We had a player, Dan Gilchrist, who was originally from Ottawa," Thomas said. "But Bob made sure he was listed from Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories, in the game program. He wanted people to look at that and think, 'Where's Johnson finding these guys?'

"Bob didn't do it to make himself look better. He did it because he thought it would help the program expand. He set definite goals. He was going to build a successful college program and he was going to be a successful coach in the NHL. Somehow, someway, he would always find a way to win."

Here we were, over forty years later, in Yellowknife, still buying what Bob was selling, and rolling on the floor laughing. I'm sure Coach Johnson appreciates it, whatever team he is coaching now.