Two former NHL hockey players visited the birthplace of their great game last week, stopping in Deline, NWT for the weekend to film a television show for Wild TV and whack the puck around with locals.
Great Bear Lake has yet to freeze over for the winter, allowing players Brendan Morrison and Rob Niedermayer to get on the water to do some world-class trout fishing for a half-hour episode of SportFishing Adventures that will air in the new year.
Morrison, who co-hosts the show by Mountain View Productions, visited the fly-in community with Niedermayer and the show’s producer Mike Bemister for two and a half days, meeting local leaders and playing a game of pickup hockey with youth in the gym before community bingo.
According to Bemister, it is going to be one of the best episodes in the show’s history.
“The people of Deline were very gracious hosts and they showed us a really good time, and it was just a unique experience to get up to the North,” he said. “I’ve wanted to go there for a long time and so did Brendan, and it was just very cool to see the beauty of the place and just experience being up there.”
Bemister said the seed of Deline was planted in Morrison’s head when he heard it was the birthplace of hockey. The more they learned about the community, the more it seemed like an ideal place to go.
After arriving in the community and meeting with locals, including Chief Leonard Kenny, the trio set off with local guides George Baton and Mike Taniton to Grey Goose Lodge, where they caught a haul of fish. Bemister said they knew right away they made the right choice.
“The fishing was great. We got lots of action and, to us, we were pretty blown away by the size of them – 20 pounds, 15 pounds – but to the locals those are apparently small fish,” Bemister said with a laugh. “We were happy nonetheless, but I don’t think we impressed them very much with our fishing skills.”
Halfway through the day, the guides treated the TV crew to a lunch of fried Great Bear Lake fish and bush coffee on the shores of the huge lake.
“It was just an awesome experience drinking the coffee and eating the nice shore-cooked fish,” Bemister said.
He said Deline was unique in that, rather than heading out to an isolated lodge somewhere in the wilderness, the hosts got to interact with the community and make that a prominent feature of the episode.
The highlight of the visit was the floor hockey game at the school. Ehtseo Ayah principal Trent Waterhouse said the kids had a great time being able to meet some former NHL pros and gold medal winners, but said the event was likely even more exciting for the dads and uncles who remember cheering for the Niedermayer brothers in the ‘90s and who got in on the pickup action along with the kids on Monday night.
Apart from filming and fishing, the three also helped out the community by participating in a fundraising poker tournament and donating their winnings to the local girls volleyball team, which is raising money to head to the Spike It tournament in Yellowknife.
The project was sponsored by the regional office of Industry, Tourism and Investment, along with Grey Goose Lodge and NWT Tourism.
Bemister said the experience has definitely put the NWT on the radar of the show, but he says it will be hard to duplicate the experience.
“I’m sure Deline is pretty hard to top – I don’t know how you could top it – but we’re definitely into checking out the rest of the North,” he said.
Season three of SportFishing Adventures will air on Wild TV every Sunday starting in January. The Deline episode will likely screen in February or March.