Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan's Jim Wiste was a junior scoring sensation with his hometown Canucks
But in 1964 the son of a railway conductor took a big gamble, at least as far as his pro hockey aspirations were concerned. He enrolled at the University of Denver, and would earn a degree in Business Administration.
The University of Denver was on the verge of really establishing itself as the best hockey programs in the country, and it remains so to this day. But back in the 1960s, it was almost unheard of for any college athlete to make it to the National Hockey League.
That changed thanks to the Denver Pioneers, winners of the NCAA championship in 1968.
"We had a tremendous team. With Cliff Koroll and Keith Magnuson and Craig Patrick," recalled Wiste, who was recruited personally by coach Murray Armstrong.
Wiste, Korall and Magnuson all turned pro in the Chicago Blackhawks farm system and helped Dallas win the Central Hockey League championship in 1969.
The next year all three were in the NHL with the Hawks.
"We were probably, and really and truly, the first college players to come out," he said in an alumni interview. "There were players such as Keith Magnuson, Cliff Koroll, and myself, along with Tony Esposito with Chicago. College players never played in the NHL back then. Now it’s unbelievable. It was good and bad because players would take an extra run at you because you were a “college player” and maybe felt that you weren’t tough enough. They were jealous of you because you had a college education. So we were kind of the pioneers of that. I’m proud of that. "
Magnuson and Koroll would go on to become key Blackhawks players for the next decade. But Jim Wiste's destiny was to be down a different road.
"Then Vancouver took me in the expansion draft, and that was going back the other way, and it made you appreciate a winner."
The Canucks would trade Wiste to the New York Rangers in 1971, but he would never play for the Rangers.
He resurfaced in the newly formed World Hockey Association in 1972. He would play two seasons with the Cleveland Crusaders and another two with the Indianapolis Racers.
"We had some great players, too, at Cleveland - Gerry Cheevers and Gerry Pinder and Paul Shmyr and Gary Jarrett. Nick Mileti owned the team and he was very generous. It was a fun time."
When retired from pro hockey in 1977 he moved back to Denver and opened his own bar and restaurant while establishing a real estate and rental property business.
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