Tri-City Americans

Portland to honor Ams trainer

KENNEWICK -- Innes Mackie could tell you stories that would curl your toes and have you rolling on the ground laughing and wiping tears from your eyes.

After nearly 35 years as an athletic trainer/equipment manager in the Western Hockey League, Mackie has been there, done that and seen it all.

Mackie's tireless work has been noted, and he will be part of the Portland Winterhawks Hall of Fame ceremonies Saturday at the Rose Garden.

Being inducted are the late Brian Shaw, who owned the team when it moved to Portland; Ken Hodge, the winningest coach in the WHL, and Dennis Holland, the team's all-time leading scorer.

Mackie, now a trainer and equipment manager for the Tri-City Americans, will receive the inaugural Brian C. Shaw award for meritorious service to the organization.

"I was surprised," Mackie said. "It's an honor, and I'm humbled by it. Thirty-plus good years there -- it's nice to be associated with those guys going in."

Mackie, who will be 56 in April, worked nearly 34 years for the Winterhawks before new ownership cleaned house last season, leaving nothing more than the players and the equipment. That came after three of the worst seasons the team had ever had.

"I can't lie. I was bitter," Mackie said of being dismissed. "We were all guilty by association with the owners who were there. Maybe it was time for a fresh change."

Mackie joined the Americans for the playoffs last year and was hired to come back full time this season.

"I was quite happy to get back in the WHL and hockey," he said. "It's pretty much all I have done the last 30 years. The boys have made it real comfortable for me and they make it easy to do my job."

During his years in Portland, Mackie sharpened the skates of the likes of Marian Hossa, Cam Neely, Brenden Morrow, Adam Deadmarsh, Bryron Dafoe, Steve Konowalchuk and many more.

"Over 100 players from Portland have gone to the NHL," Mackie said. "That's a feather in their cap."

Don't think the players don't appreciate the little people.

"A couple of years after the 1998 Memorial Cup season, Marian Hossa called me on Christmas Day," Mackie said. "I was surprised and honored. I saw him play (with the Chicago Blackhawks) in Edmonton when we were there (in January)."

Mackie, who had a short career as a defenseman in the former Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL), played an entire season (1972-73) for the Edmonton Oil Kings and few games here and there for a couple of other teams.

He started his career at age 21 off the ice with Edmonton in November of 1975. The team moved to Portland at the start of the 1976-77 season and Mackie packed up the gear and headed west.

"It took a while to draw fans, but during the 1978-79 season we only lost 10 games and we started to turn things around," he said.

During Mackie's tenure, Portland made 27 trips to the playoffs in 33 years and won Memorial Cup championships in 1998 and 1983.