Longtime hockey trainer Wayne Hubbard in the Delta Ice Hawks room at Ladner Leisure Centre in February 2020. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

Longtime hockey trainer Wayne Hubbard in the Delta Ice Hawks room at Ladner Leisure Centre in February 2020. (File photo: Tom Zillich)

HOCKEY

B.C. junior hockey mourns Surrey’s ‘Wayner the Trainer,’ who has passed after 2-year cancer fight

For 50 years, Surrey resident Wayne Hubbard worked hockey dressing rooms and benches across B.C.

B.C.’s junior hockey world is mourning Wayne Hubbard, longtime trainer for several teams in the province.

Known as “Wayner the Trainer,” Hubbard died Tuesday (April 19) while in hospice care, according to Delta Ice Hawks owner Eduard Epshtein, following a two-year battle with leukemia.

A Surrey resident, Hubbard retired from hockey in February 2020 at age 73, after five decades of sharpening skates, bandaging wounds and otherwise caring for teen hockey players and their equipment.

He’d been working dressing rooms and benches at one B.C. rink or another since the 1969-70 season of the Kelowna Packers. In his final four years, he was with the Ice Hawks of the Pacific Junior Hockey League (PJHL).

Over 50 years, Hubbard worked for a half-dozen teams in Junior A and B hockey, including stops in Burnaby, Coquitlam, Langley, Surrey, Ridge Meadows and Delta, for a grand total of around 6,000 games and practices.

“I figure I’ve done around 30,000 loads of laundry, all those jerseys and socks,” he said with a laugh in 2020.

“I’ll be going from 100 miles an hour to zero right away,” Hubbard said of his retirement. “That’s going to be the hard part for me. I mean, if I was a lot healthier I would have probably stayed another year, but I got diagnosed with leukemia in December. So my doctors are on my case about continuing. I figured there’s no better time to end it.”

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Hubbard had been a hockey trainer pretty much fulltime since retiring from Fraser Health’s payroll department at age 57, in the mid-2000s.

Never married, Hubbard made hockey his life.

“I have all the kids I need here every year, but at least they can go home to their parents every night and I don’t have to deal with them, because they can be a handful sometimes,” he said in 2020. “Every year you get a different bunch with a different attitude, different mix, everything. Most of the players are good kids.”

Epshtein said a celebration of life for Hubbard will be held this summer.

“Such a wonderful human being,” Christy Wiseman-Hasselmann posted on Facebook. “So many fond memories of this man. The hockey world lost another great today.”

Added Roy Henderson: “Wayne was a great people person! Always the adult in the room! Great knowing a man so well respected! Hockey lost a good man.”

Eddie Gregory posted: “What a great friend to the hockey community.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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