‘It’s special for me’: Raider GM Hunt on Hodgson number retirement

Herald File Photo Prince Albert Raiders general manager Curtis Hunt speaks during the team awards banquet last season.

It’s been nearly 40 years since Curtis Hunt and Dan Hodgson were teammates on the Prince Albert Raiders during the 1984-1985 season.

Fast forward to 2023 and the duo will be standing on the carpet together when Dan Hodgson’s number 16 is retired by the Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night.

In an interview, Hunt says Hodgson did a lot for the franchise when the Raiders first made the transition from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) to the Western Hockey League (WHL).

“I think without question, Dan Hodgson arguably was the best junior hockey player to come out of here. He didn’t play in the NHL as long as some other players, but he certainly had a heck of a career in Europe. But in terms of impact on a club, from the basement to the absolute penthouse, the world juniors, almost three points a game on average and what he did for the organization in terms of putting it on the map.”

Hunt also got the opportunity to play alongside Hodgson in the pro ranks, as the two played together on the AHL’s Fredericton Express during the 1987-88 season.

Hunt says Hodgson was always a great teammate, in both the junior and professional ranks.

“I got to play with Dan here and then for Vancouver’s farm team. I saw him in two phases, as a teenager. There wasn’t division in our room for an elite player. I remember that here in Prince Albert and then playing together at the next level. You become better friends now that you are both men and you are away from junior. He always greeted you with a warm smile and that it didn’t matter if I didn’t see Dan for a week or a decade. It goes back to junior hockey, what we don’t appreciate at the time, is how great a time in your life it really is.”

Number 16 will be the third number ever retired by the Prince Albert Raiders, joining Dave Manson’s number 4 and Mike Modano’s number 9.

Hunt, who currently serves as the general manager for the Raiders, played with all three players with retired numbers during his playing career in Prince Albert. Hunt was also in attendance for Manson’s number retirement back in February 2016.

“It’s special for me,” Hunt says. “One, the fact I got to play with Dan in junior and the fact we won together. The fact that even at our age, we can honour him. I’m pretty excited to be the general manager at this point. My own personal journey started here in Prince Albert. To come back and induct a teammate, just like with Dave Manson. To be on the carpet with the guys you played with and fought with against opponents. We went to war with them in terms of hockey. The blood, the sweat, the tears, those kinds of things. It’s pretty special.”

The Raiders have plenty of pre-game festivities planned for the evening, including the team wearing special jerseys featuring Hodgson’s number 16 during warmups.

Hunt encourages fans to show up early and to be in their seats prior to the pre-game ceremonies.

“I think people should come down a little early if they want to say hi to Dan in the Ches (Leach Lounge). He will also be in the Ches after the game. We’ve got a nice presentation and throughout the night, a lot of tributes from the ’85 cup championship team, but as well as friends, teammates and family all over the city. It should be a fun night.”

Puck drop between the Raiders and Moose Jaw Warriors is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night.