It was published in the Vancouver Courier that Reid Mitchell could skate from the moment he could walk – and at age 4 received rave reviews for his role as an alligator at the annual Arbutus Club Ice Review.
Mind you, the article was written by his mom – Stevie Mitchell – an admired fashion and about-town columnist with the newspaper for many years.
Reid and Stevie were among the multitude of hockey enthusiasts who had made plans for a pre-Christmas celebration with friends and family to coincide with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ only west coast visit during the NHL regular season on December 18.
Reid Mitchell, 50, is Director of Hockey and Scouting Operations with the Leafs. He was one of the first to know that last Saturday’s game, to be nationally televised on Hockey Night in Canada, was about to be postponed when he received a call from NHL headquarters in his Vancouver hotel room.
The anticipated Mitchell family Christmas reunion at Rogers Arena was to include Reid, sister Alex Oxenham, and good-natured but torn hockey mom Stevie.
Alex is the Canucks’ Senior Director of Community Partnerships and Executive Director of the Canucks for Kids Fund. She graduated from BCIT with a degree in Broadcast Communications and pursued her dream for a career in professional sports by moving to Toronto and working for the Blue Jays.
Alex joined the Canucks in August 2010.
Reid, a hockey-playing graduate of the University of Lethbridge, worked for the Canucks in ticket sales and media relations during the Pat Quinn reign in Vancouver as general manager.
“I did all sorts of odd jobs, anything I was asked to do,” he says. “It was right after the NHL lockout in January 1995.”
He credits Quinn, George McPhee, Brian Burke, Mike Penny and Chris Brumwell for tutoring him on key management hockey issues such as collective bargaining, immigration law, professional scouting, event planning and media relations.
Mitchell rejoined Quinn in Toronto at the start of the 1999-20 season. “Pat asked me if I knew anything about video,” Reid says. “I told him I didn’t but was willing to learn.”
Learn he did, resulting in his being named the Leafs full-time video coach for the next three NHL seasons and working numerous international assignments for Team Canada.
Reid is currently in his 22nd year in the Maple Leafs organization. Alex is enjoying her 12th season with the Canucks overseeing the team’s charitable initiatives throughout the province.
“They were just kids when we featured them in the 1988 Calgary Olympic bid presentation produced in Vancouver,” recalls co-owner Robin Lecky of then Creative House. “One of our partners was Stevie Mitchell.”
What’s not to love about dedicated hockey moms.
SCENE & HEARD:
Canucks recently-appointed President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford and head coach Bruce Boudreau both contributed to Vancouver losses during their playing careers in the 1970s.
Rutherford was a rookie goaltender with the Red Wings in 1971. His first game against the Canucks on January 24 resulted in a 7-3 win at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium. Dunc Wilson was in goal for Vancouver.
Boudreau scored the game’s first goal against Vancouver at Maple Leaf Gardens on January 7, 1978 in a 6-4 Toronto win. Cesare Maniago was the Canucks goaltender.
At his first opportunity, Jim Robson plans to share copies of his play-by-play summary sheets from each of those milestone moments with Rutherford and Boudreau.
Ron Barnet’s daughters Danine and Janell shared news of their father’s medical issues in this space two weeks ago.
They related how the long-time radio sportscaster was bedridden at Royal Columbian Hospital, having been declared legally blind after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was awaiting hip surgery because of arthritic problems.
The daughters encouraged folks to brighten their father’s spirits by sending emails to them, which they would read to him at his bedside.
“We are so thankful and quite overwhelmed with the many thoughtful wishes and stories everyone has sent his way, as is he,” Danine says.
“Dad had his replacement surgery done and from what information we have at the moment, it was a success. There is no change with his eyesight and we are afraid it will stay that way but we are hopeful he will rise up to any challenges that come his way.”
Ron dictated these words to those who wrote him:
“Greetings friends. Thank you all for your inspirational messages regarding my health. I was very touched by your kindness. My eyesight is a struggle and I hope for some improvement in that area. I miss the activity with the boys on the street. Hopefully, we can get together down the line. All the best in 2022.”
He closed with: “Your pal, Barney.”
Greg Douglas ‘Dr. Sport’ contributes to The Orca on a biweekly basis. His five decades of covering sports in British Columbia included 19 years as a weekly columnist with The Vancouver Sun.