Wed, 13-Aug-03 5:11 AM
Jason Cohen just posted an email that he received from Doug "Woody" Allen over at the Underground. Woody mentions several of the former Wranglers.
Thu, 14-Aug-03 10:33 PM
I got Woody's permission to repost his letter here, since it will only stay at the Underground for a limited time.
My name is Doug Allan (Flagstaff, AZ) and I just finished reading your book...I wanted to let you know that you have completed an outstanding piece of work...as you know, in hockey there are many gifted players w/ God-given talent, however they still need to practice...I have learned that writers (or perhaps authors would more appropriate) are similar to athletes as they may be very talented, but they still have to practice their craft...I believe you are a very talented individual and you went beyond the parameters of your assignment to get deeper into the players world!!...your book is one of the few 'sports books' that seems to have been written by one of the players.
Your book was recently given to me by my brother, Peter, who lives in Calgary...he knew I would be interested in ZR because of our love of the game, however the additional draw for me was that I was one of those guys who played in the SWHL...I was a member of the Amarillo Wranglers during their time of existence (you mentioned Amarillo's hockey history on p. 137) ...although the SWHL is now being considered a junior circuit and non-professional (the Amarillo Gorillas' website lists our team as playing in the SWJHL - Southwest Junior Hockey League), there were quite a few players I feel could have played in WPHL...we did have some kids who were still attending high school, so the SWHL was considerably younger... but there was a lot of talent in the SWHL - just to name a few: from our team, Marc Severyn (deceased) was picked up by OK City of the CHL for a few games during the 75-76 season; another of our players, Steve Blue, eventually played in the I; Les Jackson (Butte/Tucson), now an assistant GM w/ the Dallas Stars, was a top Boston draft choice; Greg Neeld (Reno) was considered a top NHL prospect until he lost an eye in an accident; Jerry Farwell (Albuquerque) was in Chicago's organization; and there were many others who had played major junior and Division I college hockey as well.
Some other notables: our coach, Cal Swenson, had a fine pro career w/ Tulsa (CHL) and Winnipeg (WHA); one of our guys, Barrie Stafford, always said he was going to make the NHL - he did make it, but not as a player - he has been on the Edmonton Oilers training staff for 20 years; Doug Sauter (Butte coach) is now an institution in OK City as their coach; Bob Ferguson (Tucson player) spent many years as a coach in the USHL (Sioux City) and Indy (CHL/IHL); and Bob Gernander (Albuquerque coach) has spent quite a few years as a NHL scout.
There are many other great stories out the SWHL, however the best one is the league's creator (recently deceased) - Ralph Englestad...you may know all about his exploits w/ the hockey program at the U. of North Dakota in the past few years (SI even carried a story)...he had a vision in the mid-70s that a minor pro/college level type of league would work in certain areas of the western US...he was way ahead of his time...of course, Gretzky had not yet hit LA, roller hockey was not even thought of, and the southern belt was virtually hockey less...TX did have a fine hockey history in Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Houston (and as you mentioned, Amarillo for a cup of CHL coffee) ...but the SWHL could not draw enough people to pay the expenses, which was not a lot (they paid us $60 per month, plus accommodations, travel, equipment, and school fees)...great concept, but not enough revenue to survive.
In any event, thanks for your work...it brought a flood of memories back for me...we experienced a lot of the same things that your generation of players went through...I suspect that there were a few personal things that you witnessed or heard about that would be tough to include in a book...I have emailed some of my pals and attached your website...hopefully they'll contact you in the near future.
Take care, Jason...I hope you will consider more hockey work in your future.