Petition to put Whitey Stapleton’s name on Sarnia Arena

Pat Stapleton with son Mike recalls the epic 1972 Summit Series with Russia during Hometown Hockey in Sarnia Dec. 20, 2015 ( photo by Dave Dentinger)

An online petition to rename Sarnia Arena in honour of local hockey legend Pat “Whitey” Stapleton is gaining momentum.

Stapleton was the first Sarnian to ever play full-time in the NHL after spending two seasons with the Sarnia Legionnaires from 1956-58 when he led the team to two Western Jr. ‘B’ championships and one Sutherland Cup.

Stapleton went on to have a stellar, all-star career with the Chicago Blackhawks and was also a key defenceman for Team Canada in the epic 1972 Summit Series against Russia.

The petition was started by Brian Keelan who said Stapleton inspired a whole generation of local hockey players.

“Tony McKegney, who played 13 years in the NHL, told me that Whitey was the one who made them believe it could happen for them. If you remember back to the 60s and 70s, we put a lot of hockey players from the Sarnia Minor Athletic Association into the NHL. The ones I’ve talked to have told me that Whitey made them believe that it could happen.”

“In 1965 he made the Chicago Blackhawks. That year, he made the all-star team. Four years later he was the captain. He was playing with Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita, Phil Esposito, and all of those guys.”

Stapleton played 635 regular-season games in the NHL, scoring 43 goals and adding 294 assists.

In 2005, he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. He passed away on April 8, 2020 at the age of 79.

The petition currently has about 700 signatures. The goal is 2,302 names, one for each seat in the Brock Street Barn.

It will be brought to Sarnia council for consideration at a later date.