Rest in Peace, and
December 28, 2016 | 6:00pm ET
By Josh Brewster
ANAHEIM, CA -- The sport of hockey owes a debt of gratitude to
television star Alan Thicke, who was a prominent celebrity hockey fan
Born March 1, 1947 in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, Thicke passed away on
Tuesday, December 13, after collapsing on the ice at Pickwick Gardens
in Burbank, California. He was 69.
Thicke suffered a ruptured aorta while on the ice with his son,
Carter, nearby. He died a couple of hours later. A memorial service
was held for family and friends last Sunday at his home in Carpenteria,
California, near Santa Barbara.
When Thicke made his way to Los Angeles as a young adult, the sport
smoothed his transition to his new home.
“When I first came to this country I was about 23 years old,” Thicke
told me during a 2014 appearance on Duck Calls, the Ducks’
postgame radio show. “I arrived during hockey season, and was staying
at a motel, was kind of lost and at loose ends and wanted to feel some
kind of familiarity so I look in the paper and I see there’s a hockey
game. I went down to the Forum and saw the Kings game. In the program
I noticed that there were a couple of guys that I had played with --
or, I was at the end of the bench (laughs) but there was a couple of
guys (I knew) on the roster so I went down and visited the dressing
room and reconnected with a couple of fellas that I had known who were
now on the Kings roster and they became my first friends in LA and
that’s just the kind of friendship that has persisted and I have
followed the Kings loyally ever since then. When the Ducks arrived in
town, I started doing that, too.”
Thicke was a well-regarded television host in Canada through the 70s
and early 80s and worked on a wide variety of projects. In 1977,
Norman Lear hired Thicke to produce the groundbreaking talk show
parody Fernwood 2 Night. From 1983 to 1984 he hosted Thicke
of the Night, a syndicated late-night show created to compete with
Later, he enjoyed a major breakthrough as star of the sitcom
Growing Pains, which ran for seven seasons (1985 to 1992) on ABC,
launching the careers of Kirk Cameron and Leonardo DiCaprio. Already a
celebrity, the show launched Thicke to major international stardom.
His love for hockey sustained him and he played the game often, a
fixture a Southern California rinks as well as at many charity games.
Thicke’s involvement with the game should be remembered fondly. Well
before the NHL was readily available on a nightly basis on cable,
before the digital age delivered on-demand hockey whenever fans
desired, Thicke was there for the NHL and was a great ambassador for
Thicke counted innumerable hockey players as friends, including The
Great One. One of Thicke’s most famous stories involved the 1988 trade
of Wayne Gretzky to the Kings.
“I was off in Norway with one of my sons,” Thicke remembered. “Wayne
was house sitting at my home in Toluca Lake and he and Craig Simpson
and Janet (Jones) were visiting and he got the phone call. He was
house sitting and babysitting. My son Robin was 10 years old at the
time. The call came in to Robin and he said, ‘I’m sorry, Wayne’s
sleeping,’ and (former Kings owner) Bruce McNall said, ‘well then,
wake him up!’ Robin, although he never played the game, always felt a
part of hockey history, I think.”
Robin, Thicke’s son by former spouse Gloria Loring, has, since
witnessing the biggest trade in hockey history, achieved major success
as a singer and songwriter. Thicke is also survived by son Brennan
(also with Loring) and Carter (with second wife Gina Tolleson). At the
time of his passing, Thicke was married to model Tanya Callau. The
couple married in 1999.
Thicke was a man of good humor.
“In the old days,” Thicke said, laughing as he contemplated his many
years around the game, “I was friends with the players and then as you
get a little older it’s the coaches you know who have moved up from
the players’ ranks and then you know the owners and finally, you know
the commissioner. Your demographic increases in terms of the
friendships you maintain over the years.”
A proud Canadian, Thicke was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in
Toronto in 2013.
“It’s not just the country’s reputation in the hockey world, it’s the
country’s reputation in the universe,” Thicke said shortly after
Canada won Olympic Gold Medal in 2014. “This is what Canada is, that’s
what we do, that’s what we breathe in and out, so yeah, (we) do take
it very seriously. There’s no such thing as silver or bronze for
Canadians as far as hockey’s concerned.”
Thicke stayed current, both as a player at rec leagues and charity
events, and as a fan. He called Kings’ defenseman Drew Doughty “as
entertaining as anybody in the business” and considered himself a fan
of SoCal notables Jeff Carter, Jon Quick, Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler and
“I hope that our pros are in the Olympics,” Thicke said in 2014.
“That’s not a given, that’s a sure thing, and I know there’s a lot of
feelings pro and con about how they risk their NHL seasons or careers
with injury by participating, but I think I would speak for most fans
when I say we would sure miss it if the pros weren’t in the Olympics
next time around.”
"Alan was the on-ice father figure to us all," Cuba Gooding told Ken
Baker of E! Entertainment Television. "It is said that the way you
play the game tells us how you are as a man in life. Alan played the
game of hockey with honor and a joy that was always present in his
smile. I will love and miss him for the rest of my days."
Thicke gave selflessly to diabetes and juvenile diabetes charities,
even starting a charitable organization with the help from his friends
in and outside the game.
The National Hockey League and the game itself will have few friends
now or in the future who loved the game as deeply and publicly as
Rest in Peace.
Josh Brewster is a Columnist for The Fourth Period
and the host of Anaheim Ducks' postgame radio show since 2006. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.