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Popular Bonvie heading to Chicago
Tuesday 6 October, 1998
By GARRY MCKAY -- Hamilton Spectator
Hockey in Hamilton may never be the same.
Dennis Bonvie, loved by the fans, feared but respected by opponents, leaves the Steel City today. Bonvie was claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks from the Edmonton Oilers in yesterday's NHL waiver draft.
"It's a great, great feeling," said Bonvie. "I had hoped to get another chance to play and it looks as though Chicago's going to give me that opportunity."
In Chicago, Bonvie will be reunited with coach Lorne Molleken. The head coach in Hamilton the last two years, Molleken is now an assistant coach with the Hawks.
"I had talked to Lorne and he said they were thinking about it (claiming him), but that's all he said," said Bonvie. "But it was a nice feeling when (Bulldogs' GM) Scott Howson told me. I would imagine Lorne had something to do with this.
"They like tough hockey there and I'm going to go in there and do the best I can and see what happens."
The Bulldogs' tough guy has been begging for a chance to play in the NHL for two years but it became obvious it wasn't going to happen in the Oilers' organization. He's hopeful that this represents a fresh start.
"Dennis has done a lot for us both on and off the ice," said Howson. "He's been one of our most popular players here, along with Steve Passmore. He's strong in the community and has given everything he has every time he gets on the ice.
"We're sorry to lose him, obviously, but we're also glad for him that he's going to get another opportunity with another organization to play in the National Hockey League and we wish him the best of luck."
Bonvie and Jeff Daw were the last surviving members of the Bulldogs' team that started the season here two years ago. Passmore arrived midway through that season.
It only took one punch for Dennis the Menace to endear himself to the fans in the Steel City -- a punch that Kentucky Thoroughblades tough guy Fredrik Oduya never saw coming.
Oduya squared off with Bonvie in one of the first games in Hamilton. The 5-foot-11 Bonvie had a height disadvantage of almost four inches but was used to fighting taller guys. Oduya probably wasn't expecting the right uppercut that deposited him on his backside on the ice with a thud. The crowd roared its approval and Bonvie had become a fan favourite in a city that has an affinity for tough guys.
That right uppercut became Bonvie's trade mark and he used it many times that season as he set an AHL penalty record of 522 minutes (36 majors, 18 misconducts, one game misconduct). He became so popular with the fans at the Dog Pound that when the Hershey Bears skated around the ice at Copps Coliseum after defeating the Bulldogs in the Calder Cup final, the fans were chanting his name.
"That was unbelievable. It was quite a feeling," said Bonvie. "The fans have been great to me here. I don't have one bad word to say about Hamilton."