FLIN FLON, MANITOBA
FLIN FLON, MANITOBA
Flin Flon, Manitoba is named after a science fiction character, Josiah Flintabbatey Flonatin, from the 1905 book The Sunless City. The city is built, literally, on a rock and is known for its rich mineral deposits. It is also known, perhaps even more so, for the development of Canada’s top export: hockey players.
Whitney Forum opened in 1958.
More than 17 NHL hockey players have played in Flin Flon, among the most notable of these are Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Ken Baumgartner (Bomber eventually went to get an MBA from Harvard!). The home of these hockey players in Flin Flon since 1958 has been the 2,000 seat Whitney Forum on 3rd Avenue in downtown Flin Flon.
The main tenant of the Whitney Forum is the Flin Flon Bombers. The team was founded in 1927, making it one of the first Junior “A” franchises in all of Canada. The Bombers played the first decade or so of their existence in the Senior Saskatchewan Hockey League and the Northern Junior Hockey League.
The 1956 – 57 Flin Flon Bomber team would have had advanced hockey stat geeks salivating. The team easily won the provincial junior title averaging six goals for per game “for” versus two goals “against”. After clinching the Western Canada championship, following a win over the Edmonton Oil Kings, the Bombers went on to defeat the Ottawa Junior Canadians, who were coached by the legendary Scotty Bowman, to capture the Memorial Cup title.
Ironically, the Flin Flon Bombers, then a member of the Western Hockey League, moved to Edmonton in 1978 and became the Edmonton Oil Kings. The city retained the Bomber name and started a Tier 2 junior hockey club. Since 1985, the Bombers have been a member of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League where they still play today. In 2001, Flin Flon became the most northern city in Canada to host the Royal Bank Cup, the championship tournament for Tier 2 Junior “A” hockey in Canada.
Over the course of its history, the Whitney Forum has undergone a number of major renovations, but still retains much of its unique character. Typically, after a shift at the mine, and a quick stop for a few wobbly pops, the local miners head to watch the Bombers play. The rowdy nature of the crowd has caused the Whitney Forum to be nicknamed “The Zoo” and resulted in many a visiting player to catch the “Flin Flon Flu” to avoid playing in front of the raucous crowd.
In celebration of a hometown victory, the local crowd is known to throw a frozen moose leg onto the ice. Earlier this year, the visiting Weyburn Redwings took offense to the celebration and tried to steal the leg. No surprise, a full on line brawl took place as the Bomber players tried to recapture the buffalo leg. Fittingly, “Welcome to the Zoo” is painted on the back wall of the Whitney Forum.