It will be a night for the ages at the Art Hauser Centre on Saturday when the Prince Albert Raiders retire Dan Hodgson’s number 16.
Hodgson played three seasons for the Raiders and served as the captain of the Memorial Cup championship team during the 1984-85 season. Including statistics from playoffs and the Memorial Cup, Hodgson appeared in 225 games as a Raider potting 204 goals and 357 assists.
Terry Simpson was the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders from 1972-1986. When asked about Hodgson, Simpson says Hodgson possessed an incredible hockey IQ which made him an elite player in the WHL.
“What first comes to mind is his offensive ability. He played for three years and scored a lot of points. What stands out to me is that he was a very intelligent player and I hardly ever saw him make a bad pass in the three years he was here.”
After his time with the Raiders, Hodgson moved onto a long professional hockey career that included time in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks as well as many years overseas in Germany and Switzerland.
Hodgson says he is excited to come back to Prince Albert and reconnect with several former teammates, coaches and friends.
“I look forward to it. I’m excited about that because it takes an event like this or reunion or something, for everyone to get together again. Thinking about this and thinking about Prince Albert, it’s really jogging me down memory lane of my three years spent there, my great three years spent there.”
Looking back at his time with the Raiders, Hodgson says he learned some valuable lessons that he still applies to his life today. He credits Terry Simpson, who spent many seasons behind the bench for Prince Albert, as a major influence.
“Those are big years in a young man’s life. A big, huge part of that was Terry Simpson and being a part of the Raider organization. Terry had a big influence on me with the structure, with the discipline involved and how to conduct yourself on and off the ice. How to be a good person and how to bring everything you can each and every day. That’s on and off the ice. Terry had a super big impact on me, I can’t say that enough.”
“There was no gray area, it was very black and white which I really liked because I’m like that as a person anyway and I gravitated towards that because it all made sense to me and the proof is in the pudding, these types of character traits and behaviors make for good people, make for championship teams and I’m forever grateful for those years and what Simpso (Terry Simpson) and the Raiders left on me.”
Simpson, who was inducted into the Prince Albert Sports Hall of Fame in 2004, says Prince Albert provides a great community for junior hockey because of the support and interest of the fanbase.
“It’s a compliment for sure. That’s your job as a coach to have young men here that come into the program. You have a responsibility to develop them as hockey players and as people. I think in PA it was always so good because there’s such a (major) fan interest in the team. It really holds the players more accountable and around the community as well and that’s part of them growing up.”
Despite tasting Memorial Cup glory at the end of his Raider career, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Hodgson and the Raiders in the 1980s. The Raiders posted a record of 16-55-1 in their first season in the WHL in the 1982-83 season after making the jump from the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).
“He grew with the team.” Simpson said about Hodgson. “We were a fledging team in the Western League. We weren’t very good to start with, that’s one of the surprising things is he scored 56 goals. He grew as the team grew, the next year we were better. He grew into a leadership role over those three years.”
Hodgson’s number 16 will be third number ever retired by the Prince Albert Raiders, joining Dave Manson’s number 4 and Mike Modano’s number 9.
Hodgson says he is humbled that his numbers will be in the rafters alongside two other franchise greats.
“I’ll be quite honored for sure. I played with Manso (Dave Manson) in Prince Albert, and he was a big part of our championship team. Great guy, great teammate. Mike Modano, I never had the privilege to play with Mike. He came after, but his career and everything that he did in PA and his career in the NHL speaks for itself.”
The last Raider to ever wear the number 16 in a regular season game was Cole Peardon who wore it last season before changing to his current number 17.