Remembering Selkirk’s Jimmy Skinner

A Little Background On The Reason For The “Jimmy Skinner” Story ….

I really love some of my evenings interacting with the wonderful people on Twitter.  You can really learn a lot about the people you follow and the people that follow you.  A lot of my insights, thoughts and stories come from my interactions with the Twitterverse and it was during a Winnipeg Blue Bomber game that an innocent tweet by myself and the corresponding reply that got me thinking.

Jim Skinner2503I keep forgetting that I’m 57 years old and that in some of my tweets I will mention players, teams or events that happened in the seventies or eighties that the younger Twitter sports fans might not know about.  I mentioned in a tweet that if Brian Herosian (1973 ish) was playing safety for the Bombers that the BC player cutting across the middle of the field would have been laid out and probably still be laying there after the commercial break.  One of my Twitter followers responded, “you mean the Amway guy”?  Well, I laughed pretty hard and responded that he was indeed the guy I was referring to.  I just dated my self again old man!!!  Of course, I remember Brian Herosian as a tough as nails, hard hitting safety the the Big Blue.  He was a CFL “Rookie of the Year” and an “All-Star” safety as a Blue Bomber.

It also made me wonder if people think Tim Horton’s  is just a coffee shop or do people realize that Tim Horton was a four time Stanley Cup Champion and a six time All-Star during his twenty-six year NHL career?  During one of our nightly Twitter conversations, Skinner’s Restaurant came up and I mentioned it was time for me take a drive up to Lockport as I was suffering from Skinner’s hot dog withdrawal.  It didn’t help when one of my good Twitter friends, @carolLuvshockey, openly mocked me and announced to the world that her and hubby John were taking a little drive up there the next day!!!  Lots of tweets that night about Skinner’s and it got me thinking once again.  Do people know about Jimmy Skinner or is that just the hot dog place? 

Do You Know Who Jimmy Skinner Is? 

Jimmy Skinner was born “James Donald Skinner” on January 12, 1917 in Selkirk, MB.  Jimmy spent most of his hockey life involved with the Detroit Red Wings wearing many different hats.  He was their Head Coach, Chief Scout and Farm Director, Director of Player Personnel, Director of Hockey Operations, Assistant General Manager, and General Manager until he retired in 1983. 

kissesCup 1955-300He is credited with starting the tradition of kissing the Stanley Cup!  Jimmy Skinner won the 1954-55 Stanley Cup as a rookie head coach as well as the the Prince of Wales Trophy which at that time was awarded to the regular season champions. Detroit won the Prince of Wales trophy again in 1956-57 with Jimmy Skinner behind the bench and after that season an illness forced him to give up his coaching duties.  Jimmy continued in a series of other managerial duties with the Red Wings before finally retiring as General Manager in 1983.  He had an overall NHL coaching record of 123–78–46 and coached in three NHL All-Star games from 1954 to 1958.

Prior to joining the Detroit Red Wings, he played for the Selkirk Fishermen, Winnipeg Rangers and the Winnipeg Falcons in his teens. He was offered a contract with New York Rangers but declined the offer and played for the Flin Flon Bombers instead. Jimmy was a defenseman and a part-time forward and as a member of the Bomber squad that won the Saskatchewan Senior Hockey League Championship in 1937-38.  Other teams Jimmy played for were the Omaha Knights where he was a playing assistant coach and the Indianapolis Capitals as the captain alongside his brother, Morden “Ducky” Skinner in 1943.  Jimmie amassed a multitude of injuries at the end of his playing career and these would follow him for the rest of his life.

Jim Skinner Coach of The  Windsor Hettche Spitfires

Jimmy Skinner Coach of The Windsor Hettche Spitfires

It was at that time, Jack Adams, who had been following his progress, offered him a chance to coach the Windsor Spitfires in 1947-53.  There was one brief departure in 1951-52 campaign when the Spitfires left Windsor for Hamilton in 1953.  It was then he became coach of the Hamilton Red Wings.

At the end of the 1953-54  season Jack Adams offered Jimmy the head coaching job.  Jimmie Skinner became the Detroit Red Wing’s rookie Head Coach & won the Stanley Cup in 1954-55.  In the 1956 season, he led Detroit to a 1st place standing during the regular season before bowing out in the playoffs.  

He conducted two NHL coaching/referee schools (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and in the Maritimes) in conjunction with the Manitoba Amateur Hockey Association.  Jimmie’s scouting in Europe enabled many European players to play in Canada/USA which is ongoing today.  Twenty-seven of his junior players became professional hockey players in the NHL, International and American Hockey Leagues.  Some names that might be familiar to hockey fans would be Glenn Hall, Glen Skov, Johnny Wilson, Al Arbour and Brian Kilrea.  Jimmy Skinner also coached the likes of  Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay, Marcel Pronovost, Red Kelly, Alex Delvecchio, and Winnipeg’s Terry Sawchuk, all of whom went on to become Hall of Famers.  Jimmy won the Memorial Cup as Manager of the Hamilton Red Wings in 1962.  He also had time to be the Farm Director of the Cincinnati Red Wings in 1963-64.

 

skinners 3James had two brothers who were Gordon and Morden (Ducky).  After their father James Skinner Sr. died, the three of them inherited Skinner’s Restaurant established in 1929 and located in Lockport, MB.  

In 1943, he married Vivian Anna Reynolds (deceased Jan. 11, 2007).  They had four children; Holly, Karen, Tess, and James Jr.  Jimmy spent every off season since 1945 with his family at Lester Beach, Manitoba.  Jimmy Skinner passed away on July 11, 2007 in Windsor, ON,  the city he lived in since 1945.  

 

 

Notable Hockey Accomplishments

Other honors while coaching the Windsor Hettche Spitfires of the IHL include the 1947-48 J.P. McGuire Trophy(League Champion) and the 1947-48 Joseph Turner Memorial Cup (Turner Cup).  

Jimmy was instrumental with his friend Sam Pollock in creating the NHL Entry Draft as it is known today.  He served on this committee which also included Stafford Smythe, Tommy Ivan and Clarence Campbell. 

Jimmy Skinner has been inducted into the following “Halls of Fame”

1. Detroit Red Wings Hall of Fame

2.  Flin Flon Hockey Hall of Fame

3.  Windsor Essex County Sports Hall of Fame

4.  Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame

Jimmy Skinner has a very impressive resume that ranks up there with hockey greats of his era.

I finally made it up to Skinner’s for my long awaited “foot-long hot dog”!  AND ~ just to prove that I’m not a bitter, vindictive old man, I invited my Twitter friend Carol to join my wife and I for a trip down hockey memory lane.  I had not been there for years and I had forgotten about all the great pictures and memorabilia at both locations.  I chatted with the staff and customers at both locations, took lots of pictures and had a ton of fun reminiscing.  I received a mixed bag of reactions to my questions but for the most part I got what I came for.  I was comfortable with the fact the staff knew about Jimmy and for the most part most of the patrons had varying degrees of knowledge.

I am always impressed with the accomplishments of Manitoban’s in the hockey world and especially at the NHL level.  James Skinner left his mark on the hockey world and his accomplishments should be remembered.  The Skinner name should mean more than a great hot dog.  

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Comments welcome below 

 

Comments

  1. Great article, Mitch; this story really needed to be brought forward, again. Really enjoyed visiting with you and PK again, too. The Skinners River Road location is definitely a spot any hockey fan needs to visit!. Just to be clear, though, they need to go to Skinners River Road, not the very close by Highway 44 location, unless they are looking for bait. Great fishing at the lock, too!

  2. Scott Campbell says

    Good article Mitch. Especially your name-dropping twitter superstar Carol. 🙂 I obviously knew of Skinner, but not to this extent. mmm hotdogs!

  3. Karen Skinner says

    Very kind of you & the many other manitobans who fondly remember my dad & his hockey life. There hv been an abundance of people U.S. & Canada who hv tried unsuccessfully to get him recognized in the NHL Hall of Fame but it seems there is someone in there who does not want him in there. He certainly should be in there! On another note, his brother “Ducky” (my uncle) was an unbelievable player/coach mgr. He turned down a hockey career to stay at Skinners, to run the business & take care of my grandparents. We don’t go out to Skinner’s often but we do drive thru Lockport just to remember as we lived just below the park in a tiny house before moving to Windsor Ontario. Thanks again for giving our family another great memory! sincerely, Karen Skinner

    • I too remember your dad and your brother Jimmy. Remember your mom too and although I apologize for this late reply to an older story, have mentioned your dad a few times to others in the past, your mom as well. Jimmy senior and the cabin by the water, a few steps to the path and your pop’s old aluminum boat and I got one of my first rides on Lake Wpg. Jimmy sr. even taught me how to waterski, I sucked but he was patient and we went out a few times. Also went fishing a few times while your dad piloted the “boat”. Often enough when just at the beach swimming, there was your mom picking through smooth and well worn beach stones that she would implement into her creations and if memory serves me here, she would plant the beauties into coffee tables or other ornaments? How many beach patrons passed by the cabin in all those years until one day they finally blocked off that road and only residents could use it and everyone else had to walk the path behind the Black Forest Resort store? I seem to remember the cabin as being a light mauve or was it a faded purple? Why Jimmy never painted it RED, we’ll never know LOL. Jimmy junior, blonde hair, was a nice kid for when we actually saw the busy guy. Your dad donated some sticks etc. to one of the “Sports Days” held further out in the new(er) sports field, just before one gets to the actual community area where the cabins began. I won the Marcel Dionne autographed stick one time and was truly amazed and for some reason never knew your dad was much more more than the scout master for the Detroit Red Wings. Pretty amazing that at the time (70’s) we knew him, he was just a normal guy and I mean this with the utmost respect. Pretty cool that both your mom & dad lived to a nice age of about 90 and maybe it was all that Lake Winnipeg air. For those reading this today, sad that most don’t realize what a gem of a place this was and still is and only a little over 1 hour away from the city, It was also known as Belair and Maude Lester ran it pretty good back then too. Old Lady Lester we used to call her, she would wear her insulated plaid jacket all year round and give you an empty cigarette carton as your bag for your penny candy.

    • Diane Eisler says

      I remember the time we looked out the front door of your fathers cabin at belair, and even though the sun was shining, we saw a brown darkness through the door. We, u and me,while your dad sat in the corner with his foot up in his lazy boy, opened the door…..a bear standing on back 2 legs blotting out the sun. Crazy times. U and me are 72 now. If u want to relive some good imes, call me Karen, Diane 204-663-0524.

  4. Mitch Kasprick says

    You are quite welcome Karen. I think the achievements of Manitoban’s should be shared and passed on. Jimmy Skinner’s contributions to the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL won’t be forgotten. I’m glad you enjoyed the article.

    • -not to mention, any community that he lived in or visited and if what he did while in Manitoba and at our lake is any indication, I’m sure he will also be remembered for what he did for the community too…..

    • Hello Karen,
      I met your dad at hockey school in St Thomas Ontario in 1958 0r 59. He had known my father Jack Dent from Windsor when he coached the Windsor Spitfires from 1947 to 53. Are there any records from those years. My father died suddenly at age 36 in 1950 and there was a trophy named after him and given out to the most valuable Spitfire. Glen Skov won it in 1950, and Glen Hall in 1951 but we don’t know who won it in 1952/53 season before the team left town and went to Hamilton. I’ve been searching for the trophy with no success. Do you by chance have any details to add?

      • Karen skinner says

        David dent…there were minimal records kept of Windsor spitfires & don’t forget they were also at one time..the Windsor hettche spitfires. I would contact the spitfires who may know more or perhaps Glenn hall as he was last. I think your dad was a newsman/reporter wasn’t he? I remember that name. He was so young! Thank you for remembering! Karen skinner

  5. Mitch Kasprick says

    I’m glad to see this comment thread still going strong

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