By percentage, Saskatchewan has sent more players to the National Hockey League than any other province or territory, and one of the contributing reasons is the influence of one man -- Ed Chynoweth.
Born in Dodsland, Saskatchewan, Ed was raised in nearby Coleville, both west of Saskatoon not far from the Alberta border. During some twenty years living in Saskatoon, Chynoweth rose through the hockey ranks and became president of the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association. He also made his first forays into junior hockey by joining the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Canada Hockey League as assistant general manager in 1971-72. That fall, Ed embarked on the career that brought him to the Hockey Hall of Fame. In November 1972, he became the first full-time president of the Western Canada Hockey League (now known as the Western Hockey League), and held that position through 1996 with the exception of one year. During the 1979-80 season, Chynoweth accepted the position as owner and general manager of the league's Calgary Wranglers. Although the team finished second in the East Division, led by future NHLer Kelly Kisio and WHL coach of the year Doug Sauter, they were defeated by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round of the playoffs. Chynoweth returned to the presidency of the WHL the next season.
In his role as president of what we know today as the WHL, Ed Chynoweth was instrumental in forging a partnership between the WHL, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), forming the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (now known as the Canadian Hockey League, or CHL) in 1973-74. Ed became the first president of the CMJHL in 1975-76, a position he held until June 1995, while still maintaining his presidency of the WHL.
Ed was chairman of the 1974 Memorial Cup tournament in Calgary, and took that same role each spring that the Memorial Cup series was hosted by a WHL franchise - 1977 in Vancouver, 1980 shared by Brandon and Regina, 1983 and 1986 in Portland, 1989 in Saskatoon, 1992 in Seattle and 1995 in Kamloops.
In August 1995, a team headed by Chynoweth was awarded an expansion franchise in the WHL. Ed was named president and governor of the newly-created Edmonton Ice beginning with the 1996-97 season, positions he maintained through the Edmonton Ice's two-year history. The team lost games on the ice (they missed the playoffs both years) and lost money off the ice. The franchise relocated to Cranbrook, British Columbia in 1998, renamed the Kootenay Ice, with Ed maintaining his roles as president and general manager. The team enjoyed a much better fate than its predecessor and won the Memorial Cup in 2002. Ed remained president of the Kootenay Ice from 1998 until his death in 2008. He was also the WHL's chairman of the board from 1996 to 1998, and again from 2004 until 2007.
Ed Chynoweth's influence permeated many levels of hockey. His most valuable contribution may be regarded as the integral role he played in getting the CMJHL and the CAHA (Canadian Amateur Hockey Association) to form a joint committee that would oversee and operate Canada's World Junior Team program.
Chynoweth's reputation preceded him, and he was tapped to sit on many key hockey committees. He was appointed to the Federal Government Commission of Fair Play in 1986 and then in 1987, he was appointed to the International Centre of Excellence and Hockey Development Committee. He also proudly served on the Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee from 1990 until 2008.
Ed Chynoweth was rewarded many times over for his substantial contributions to the game. In both 1977 and 1983, he was the recipient of the CMJHL Distinguished Service Award. In 1986, Ed was awarded the CAHA Order of Merit for service to Canadian Amateur Hockey. In 1996, the CHL named its award for the top scorer in the Memorial Cup tournament the Ed Chynoweth Trophy. The WHL Championship Trophy was renamed the Ed Chynoweth Cup in May 2007. He was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, and in 2008, Ed was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder category.
Ed Chynoweth passed away in Calgary on April 22, 2008, following a two-year battle with liver cancer. Even with all of his accumulated accolades, perhaps Ed's greatest legacy is that both of his sons, Jeff and Dean, have carried on in the footsteps of their father. Dean, an NHL veteran of 241 regular season games split between the New York Islanders and Boston Bruins, is the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. Jeff is general manager of the Kootenay Ice.