British Columbia

Captain Kirk leads B.C. Sports Hall of Fame class of 2020

Brent Johnson, Jeff Francis and NHL pioneer Robin Bawa also being inducted

Brent Johnson, Jeff Francis and NHL pioneer Robin Bawa also being inducted

B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inductees for 2020 include Kirk McLean, Brent Johnson and Jeff Francis. (Karin Larsen/CBC)

The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame announced 12 new inductees for 2020 in the categories of athlete, coach-builder, team, pioneer and media. The official induction ceremony takes place June 4 at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Here's a look at a few of the familiar faces getting the call to the hall:

Robin Bawa

Robin Bawa never thought of himself as a trailblazer, but that didn't stop him from becoming one.

The Duncan native is going into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame's pioneer category as the first player of South Asian descent to make the NHL, and the first to score a big league goal.

"It's a happy day for me," said the trim 53-year-old. "When I look back on my career, hopefully I made a path for the other kids coming up." 

Bawa was a junior star with the Kamloops Blazers but was passed on in the NHL draft. The Washington Capitals signed him in 1987, and two years later he made his NHL debut.

Robin Bawa seen today, and in his 1989 Washington Capital head shot. Bawa was the first player of South Asian descent to play and score in the NHL. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC/Washington Capitals)

"That first game in Washington was a huge deal," said Bawa. "My parents in Duncan had bought one of those old-style 10-foot diameter satellite dishes so they could watch it. We had to take out a tree [to install it]."

Bawa played 61 games in the NHL, including two with the Vancouver Canucks, over a decade-long pro hockey career. 

Captain Kirk

What's known as "the Save" will forever headline Kirk McLean's long and successful hockey biography.

(For those who don't know, "the Save" is the pad stacking miracle McLean pulled off in game seven overtime of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 1994.)

Goaltender Kirk McLean of the Vancouver Canucks had to face Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings twice in the playoffs. ((Ken Levine/Getty Images))

"The Save" is now 25 years in the past, but it continues to stir the emotions of Vancouver hockey fans. Heck, longtime Canucks colourman Tom Larscheid was brought to tears as he recounted the memorable moment while welcoming McLean to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

"It's a pretty good thing to be known for," said McLean. "It was such an important moment in Canuck history and such a defining moment in my career."

McLean says the fondness fans continue to show him and his 1994 teammates always catches him by surprise.

"People really do gravitate to us and it's really weird. Because obviously there was the [Stanley Cup] 1982 team ... and the 2011 team. Is it because we're such nice guys? I don't know." 

Brent Johnson

Brent Johnson put the Canadian in the Canadian Football League like no other player. 

The B.C. Lion's sack master excelled at a position normally held by American imports, and then pushed the envelope even farther when he won CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2006.

Brent Johnson won two Grey Cup with the B.C. Lions and was named CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player in 2006. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC/B.C. Lions)

In a career filled with awards — including two Grey Cups with the Lions — Johnson says being named to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame is particularly sweet. 

"It's been seven and a half years since I retired. There were some accolades that came very quickly, but this came at the perfect time," he said. "It's just really lovely to be recognized when I can reflect on my career and feel really proud and emotional and happy about how it all went."

Alex Stieda 

At age 58, Alex Stieda still looks like he could be a contender in a Tour de France time trial, just like 1986, when he became the first North American to wear the yellow leader's jersey in the legendary race.

In over a decade of elite cycling he raced for the esteemed 7-Eleven team, competed in the Olympics, won two Gastown Grand Prixs and a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games.

Alex Steida (left) was the first North American to wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

Stieda says his career defied the odds, especially considering he wanted to be a hockey player.

"Think about it, how did I become a cyclist? I played hockey in Coquitlam until I was 16, and six years later I'm racing in the Tour de France? Amazing." 

Class of 2020

Athletes

  • Sonja Gaudet – Wheelchair Curling
  • Alex Stieda – Cycling
  • Jeff Francis – Baseball
  • Brent Johnson – Football
  • Kirk McLean – Ice Hockey

Builders-Coaches

  • Harry White – Golf
  • Bill Mitchell – Wrestling
  • Valerie Johnson – Trampoline Gymnastics

 Team

  • 1979-80 University of Victoria Viking's Men's Basketball   
         
    • Ted Anderson, Bill Chapman (manager), Reni Dolcetti, Jim Duddridge (assistant coach), Kelly Dukeshire, Bruce Hamilton, Chris Hebb, Craig Higgins, Ian Hyde-Lay, Gerald Kazanowski, Gregg Kazanowski, Tom Narbeshuber, Eli Pasquale, Ken Shields (head coach), Billy Turney-Loos, Norm Vickery (assistant coach), Mickey Welder.
    •    

Pioneer

  • Robin Bawa – Hockey 

Media

  • Cleve Dheensaw

W.A.C. Bennett Award

  • Kathy Newman

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