Warriors induct builder into Hall of Fame
There was a lot of begging for money in the early days of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
© Katie Brickman
Lyle Helland was inducted into the Conexus Warriors and Legends Hall of Fame on Thursday evening in the builders category. Times-Herald photo by Katie Brickman
“It was a lot of hard work and a lot of heartaches,” said Lyle Helland, part of the original group that brought the Warriors to Moose Jaw. “We started out with a $100 share…back then, it wasn’t too bad. Nowadays, you could grab that any place you go, but we ran out of money. We didn’t even have money for stamps to send out to people.”
Helland and that group were instrumental in bringing the Warriors from Winnipeg to Moose Jaw. He was inducted as a builder into the Conexus Warriors and Legends Hall of Fame on Thursday evening at the Moose Jaw Exhibition Convention Centre.
“I never expected anything like this. I always said I did a lot, but I don’t know if any of it was deserving or not,” said Helland of his induction. “It is fantastic…really fantastic.”
Helping to bring the Warriors to the city wasn’t a simple task, in fact, at one point; Helland even mortgaged his house as collateral.
The process started in 1983 when the Warriors were playing poorly in Winnipeg and their owner wanted to sell the team. That is when this group got together to bring the team to Moose Jaw, but there would be a lot of twists and turns within that year.
“Finally we got enough money that we bought the team from him. We got enough money, but then we go to make a payment to the Western Hockey League in Calgary. It was a substantial amount,” explained Helland. “We went up there with a cheque from the Royal Bank. When we got up there, the Western Hockey League phoned the bank and the bank wouldn’t accept the cheque. We left with no hockey team.”
The group travelled back to the city feeling defeated, but then ran into Morse McCaig and asked if he would cover the cheque for them, which he did. The club would later pay him back. However, the saga still continued for the members in the group, but they continued to press forward with hopes of brining a WHL franchise to the Friendly City.
“In the end, we were behind and the bank was closing on us again. We had to get money quick. A few of us signed notes at the bank and I put my house up for $20,000. I had little kids and I told my wife, this might get us thrown out and we will have nothing,” said Helland. “Anyway, it went like that and a little while later they were going to take the money, but they didn’t. I still have the notes at home.”
Before the team began their inaugural season in 1984 in the Civic Centre, Helland made multiple trips to Winnipeg with his truck to bring the equipment to Moose Jaw.
“I took many trips with my truck. I hauled the equipment and the washing machine,” he said.
Helland served on the board of directors throughout the 1980s and has been a season ticket holder for the past 29 years.
“I liked that first year…I was involved deeply with the Warriors because we had no office staff, I ran the show,” he said.
In his speech, Helland thanked his family that came to support him and stated how special that first team was because of how involved he was with the players, coaches and getting fans to come out.
“That team in 1985 was the best junior teams put together. That is how the Warriors started and where they are today,” he said. “The best thing in Moose Jaw is the Moose Jaw Warriors. I love going to see them.”
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