Denis Dumont covered 23 games in Calgary, including seven involving Team Canada
By Pat Payton
The Independent recently ran a two-part series on former NHLer and St. Marys resident Merlin Malinowski.
During a 13-year professional hockey career (1978-91), Malinowski also competed for his country at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. In eight games, the centreman had three goals and two assists for five points as Canada went 4-3-1 in the tournament and finished fourth overall.
A man who attended seven of the eight Team Canada games and watched Malinowski score his three goals was Denis Dumont. Now a retired St. Marys resident, the 75-year-old North Bay area native served as a hockey analyst for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) at those Olympic Games.
Dumont was a hockey analyst for three years (1986 to ’88). At the time, he managed all the restaurants, lounges and 28 private suites at the Olympic Saddledome in Calgary and a friend of his was in charge of recruiting volunteers for the Olympics.
Dumont had a good knowledge of the game. When he was 17, he played Jr. ‘A’ for the North Bay Trappers. He was a defenceman.
As a tune-up for the Games, Dumont and fellow hockey analysts worked the Labatt’s Calgary Cup, which was held from Dec. 27, 1986 to Jan. 4, 1987. The four-team tournament was regarded as an Olympic preview.
“It was held a year before the Olympics, just so we could basically practice and know what we were covering,” he told the Independent in a recent interview.
The four national teams taking part were the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, the United States and Canada. All games were held at the Saddledome. The Calgary Cup was won by the Czechs, who defeated the Soviets 3-2 in the gold-medal game. Canada took the bronze.
Legendary Russian goaltender Vladislav Tretiak was the honorary chairman of the tournament. At the welcoming dinner for the teams, Dumont sat beside Tretiak. “It was really neat,” he remembers.
First Olympics to have analysts
Dumont said the Calgary Games were the first Olympics to have IIHF hockey analysts. “We analysed all aspects of the game,” he explained. “We recorded body-checks, shots on net, face-offs, turnovers, powerplay stats, penalties and things like that. We all sat in different areas of the arena.”
During the Olympics, men’s hockey was held at three Calgary venues — the Saddledome, the Stampede Corral and the Father David Bauer arena. Twelve national teams competed.
One of 12 hockey analysts, Dumont covered a total of 23 Olympic games. He said it involved spending many hours in the arenas every day.
“It was very fast-paced hockey,” he recalled. “We had to do the complete analysis of the games. If I covered Sweden and Russia for instance, then I would take the information I collected to the (respective) coaches.”
Malinowski strong playmaker
Denis Dumont remembers Malinowski being a strong player for Canada.
“I have fond memories as far as Team Canada is concerned,” he says. “There was only one of their games that I didn’t cover. I really liked the way Merlin played; I thought he had a lot of potential. He was a good playmaker and I really enjoyed the way he played.”
Dumont remembers a “really amazing” atmosphere at the Calgary Olympics.
“It was such an all-round good show; it was tremendous,” he said. “The weather was almost too warm some days. We had a Chinook; it was 19 degrees Celsius in February and the ice for some (outdoor) events started melting.”
For being a hockey analyst at the Olympics, Dumont received a bronze medal which he still cherishes to this day. He was given such things as a winter jacket, cowboy boots, pants, sweaters, toques and gloves as well. He also received a plaque from the Olympic organizing committee and an Alberta Achievement Award from the province.
Practised with the Flames
While working at the Saddledome, Dumont practised with the NHL Flames for six years.
“I knew all the players, and I was friends with (GM) Cliff Fletcher,” he says. “I practised with players like Jim Peplinski, Paul Reinhart, Perry Berezin, Lanny McDonald, Theo Fleury and Joel Otto.
“It was usually about a month and a half before their (regular) season started. It was fun.”
–Denis Dumont lived and worked in Calgary from 1980 to 1992. He has been a St. Marys resident for the past four years. He lived in Granton for seven years prior to that. He grew up in a small town, 15 miles from North Bay.
–In 1986, Dumont ended up in the Montreal dressing room and drinking champagne after the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in Calgary that spring.
–At the ’88 Calgary Olympics, the Soviet Union won the gold, Finland the silver, and Sweden the bronze.
–In 1992, Dumont was offered a hockey analyst position at the Albertville Winter Olympics in France, but declined because he was busy running his own business. He invented a hockey product called Hockey Hose, a one-piece garment (socks, garter belt and protector). His business was called DCH Ventures, which stands for Dreams Can Happen, and he ran it for eight years.
–Today, Dumont is an avid pickleball enthusiast. “I play a lot of pickleball, four or five times a week and sometimes twice a day,” he says.