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Canadian NHL cartoonist Dave Elle "was a business gentleman."

Dave Elston is a semi-retired artist who lives in Calgary with his wife Kaida, cat Annie, and 26-year-old horse Baby. The most expensive lawn ornament in the world. “

The underground walls of their home show how much his reach once extended to stables throughout North America, not just the entire town. For most of his career, Elston was generally known as Canada’s only full-time editorial sports cartoonist, and he signed and foreheaded from the exact same NHL personality that was once paid to the skewers. We are exhibiting a souvenir galaxy.

His work was published in Canadian newspapers and hockey news, and for some time aired as a short animation of “Canadian Hockey Night.” He is a two-time art school dropout, and his ability to tell stories in one frame makes his work immediately recognizable to readers of a particular age.

“He’s a great guy,” said NHL executive Bryan Burk.

“Great,” said retired forward Tim Hunter.

“He must be the man of the Order of Canada,” said TSN host Jay Onright.

Elston, now 63, dreamed of becoming a commercial artist and enrolled in what was then known as Alberta University of the Arts. He immediately felt out of place. Works that were determined to contain cartoon-like images were panned rather than praised. In addition to that, he also loved sports.

In 1980, he contacted his former high school football coach, who was the editor of the recently launched Calgary Sun. (Elston said he was 5 feet 2 and someone gave him the nickname “Galloping Fire Hydrant” when he was running back.)

The paper gave him $ 25 per cartoon.

Within a few years, Elston wanted to expand his reach by synthesizing his work throughout Canada. He sent cartoon packets to small papers across the country. He left the parcel after mailing, and at the skylark he decided to send it to Toronto’s Hockey News.

Bob Mackenzie was the editor-in-chief. He was still only a few years at work when Packet landed on his desk. He wanted to separate the publication from the concept of being the editorial department of the NHL — Ken Mackenzie (irrelevant) founded a treatise in 1947 while working in the league — and the editorial cartoonist I felt it would help the cause.

He hired Elston to give him editing freedom.

“He was a giant in terms of his influence on hockey news,” said Mackenzie, now a semi-retired NHL insider at TSN.

Connor McDavid’s unreleased Dave Elle cartoon. (Courtesy of Dave Elle)

His favorite Elston cartoon involved Wayne Gretzky and a coach behind the bench who misunderstood his influence. Robbie Ftorek coached the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1980s, shortening Gretzky’s playing time and putting Great One on the bench in November 1988 as part of the game.

Mackenzie can still visualize the cartoon. Ftorek claimed that he was drawn into the frame as one of the three wise men and looked into the manger, “I don’t know, it looks like another baby to me.”

“It was absolutely great,” Mackenzie said. “This was one of the best comics I’ve ever seen.”

Hunters, longtime NHL forwards, were also frequent muses. At the age of 61, he admitted that his “famous nose” made him a simple sign. But it was also the star of his favorite Elston cartoon.

He was playing at Canax that season. On the frame, a Vancouver trainer is examining a box of Breezelight nasal strips. It was used by some players because it believed it would improve performance on ice. The trainer noticed that the new box was empty and asked who robbed all the bandages.

“I have about 10 in my nose and he has an empty box,” said the hunter with a laugh. “That is, it’s just a classic.”

A few years later, Elston starred a short animation in “Canadian Hockey Nights” at the beginning of the season as Hunter ended his NHL playing career at San Jose Sharks. The theme song of the movie “Jaws” was played in the background, and the cartoon showed what looked like a shark fin swimming across the pool towards the Stanley Cup.

“This is the Stanley Cup,” said Hunter. “And a popup pops me up: I was swimming on my back.”

“He’s doing a great job, but he’s not mean,” said Burke, now president of Pittsburgh Penguins’ hockey operations.

Burke said he sent a handwritten note of thanks to Elston after watching the cartoon in 1989, following a fierce playoff series between Vancouver and Calgary. After the extra-time goal of Round 7, the flames advanced and eventually won the Stanley Cup, but Elston’s frame showed how exhausted and beaten both teams were. rice field.

It was a tribute to Kanax with whom Burke worked.

“He will make fun of someone, but he will do it in a way that you can’t keep angry with him,” Burke said. “He was really a business gentleman you had to be a little jerky.”

Burke is also currently a co-star in his own comic series. He and his host Jeff Marek have starred in the online sportsnet animated short film “Hey Burkie.” (Neels Britz is the artist behind the series, with Amil Delic and Jason Harding as creative leads.)

“I can walk around my story,” Burke said. “I can explain things. Elston was one shot.”

“It was almost like an alternative comic, but it was a mainstream publication,” said TSN anchor Onrait. “Because of its unique style, I couldn’t stop one of his cartoons and pass it on without paying attention to it.”

Onrait frames a personalized Elston cartoon in his office. He said it was a gift arranged by his wife. This shows a man pushing a TSN-branded pram under the text “Onrait’s baby says the first word.”

The balloon coming out of the carriage is a bold classic on-light exclamation mark: “Boblovsky !!”

Onrate grew up in Edmonton during the height of the Battle of Alberta. At that time, the Oilers and Flames met each spring to decide which team to advance to win the Stanley Cup. Elston was a major component of Calgary’s era, he said.

“A very important artist in the history of the city,” he said. “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration. I truly believe he was not only a great artist, but also a chronicler at the time. Especially the team is very good. It was the 80’s era. “

If an NHL player requests a printed copy of his work, Elston said he would usually mail two copies. One is for players and the other is for signing and returning. He said most of his subject matter seemed to be joking.

Most of them, but not all, he said.

“There was a strange thing that someone came to me.’Oh, you did my cartoon when I was playing football for the Stampeders,’ he said. “Then I’ll go:” Is that so? “And they would say,” I didn’t like it. ” “

He stopped laughing. “I said,’OK, did you hit me now?

In 1991, Flames forward Doug Gilmour landed on Elston’s cartoon after being awarded $ 750,000 in payroll arbitration. It’s just before the December holiday, and according to British Columbia, the cartoon shows Gilmour seeking charity with a sign that “a young couple, a child, and a father are making a poor $ 750,000.” Was there.

Gilmour reportedly was dissatisfied with his portrayal, but he never reached out to the artist.

“His wife did,” Elston said. “She wasn’t happy. She’ll leave it alone.”

He said he still draws from time to time, mainly for his own entertainment. He said he was open to new projects, but otherwise he was settled in a retired life. His wife Kaida also retired.

“I’m grateful that I managed to reach the sweet spot where I managed to build my career and hopefully got out of it in enough time to retire,” he stopped laughing again. “Or I think I’ll find it.”

(Photo above: Courtesy of Dave Elston)