In his 40 years of involvement in the game, Mike Anderson says he never saw anybody play the game the way Terry Gillam did during his senior hockey career.
“Anything he lacked in talent he made up for in hard work. There was never a harder worker, in my mind,” Anderson said of Gillam earlier this week. “He wasn’t afraid to take anybody on to help the team out. He did what was necessary to win.”
Gillam, inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 in the player category, won three Herders during a 15-year career that ended in 1985 with his final Herder and a shocking loss in the Allan Cup final in 1985 at Humber Gardens.
Anderson took on Gillam as an assistant coach the following season and the Royals won the first Allan Cup for Newfoundland and Labrador with a four-game sweep over the Nelson Maple Leafs.
Gillam will have his No. 20 Royals jersey retired by the team on Friday night before the Royals host the Stephenville Jets in a West Coast Senior Hockey League game 8 p.m. at the Corner Brook Civic Centre.
Anderson played against Gillam back in the day. They were also teammates wearing the red, white and blue before they coached the Royals to Allan Cup glory in 1986.
Anderson considered Gillam an honest player who was also willing to stand up for his teammates so he earned respect around the league. He was also one of the leaders on and off the ice, and he was able to make a healthy contribution on the scoresheet despite the fact he wasn’t as skilled as a lot of the future Hall of Famers he shared the ice with back in the heyday of provincial senior hockey.
“His attitude toward the game is the team had to win and that’s it,” Anderson said.
Royals president Dennis Waterman said Gillam was one of the most energetic, hard-working and productive players in the history of the organization, so the executive felt it was time to recognize his contribution to the team.
“Nobody gave more to the game when he was playing it than Terry Gillam,” Waterman said
Gillam was surprised to receive a telephone call from the Royals. He is honoured by the gesture, but he admits it’s not something he ever thought about or talked about when he was playing the game.
Gillam appreciates all the good that came out of his senior hockey career. He made a lot of friends along the way, some of them teammates and others formidable opponents, and he also got to meet a lot of fans who he still runs into from time to time and they chat about the good old days.
Gillam broke into the league when a time when senior hockey was the hottest ticket in town when it came to entertainment. It was exciting to be wearing the jersey and he never had much time for anything else because the team was on the ice several times a week for practice before playing two games on the weekends.
“Just the fact you got a chance to play was great,” he said.
Gillam has never been one to look for time in the limelight. He went about his business quietly and played the game hard because he wanted to win.
He has many fond memories from playing the game all over the province so all the hard work was worth it. He has lots of friendships formed from the bond that comes with playing the game so it’s a time he will never forget really.
His wife, Pat, will be joining him on the ice for the special occasion. His son Jeff and his partner Melissa, along with his grandson Wesley, will also share the moment.
No. 20 was all heart when he played the game.
People noticed that he worked his butt off every shift and didn’t know what it was like to take a night off.
He’s happy he got to play the game. It was a big part of his life and he’s thankful for everything it brought to his life.
One last appearance in the spotlight is something he will probably remember for years to come and he takes pride in knowing he was appreciated for his effort so he’s excited about a night dedicated to him.