Article reposted from Tri-City Herald
Author: ANNIE FOWLER
Innes Mackie is not one to bring attention to himself.
The longtime Western Hockey League athletic trainer and equipment manager worked his 3,000th game Wednesday when the Tri-City Americans played at Portland. Though the milestone was more than four decades in the making, it came and went with little fanfare.
“It’s just a number,” said Mackie, who has been with the Americans for nearly eight years. “It has gone really fast. I’ve seen lot of good hockey players and a lot of good hockey games.”
Tri-City coach Mike Williamson, who was just breaking into the WHL as a player when he first met Mackie, has fond memories.
“Inch was there when I first went to a Portland Winterhawks training camp trying to make the team,” Williamson said. “The three years that I played there, and the years I spent coaching there, in my mind mind, he is part of the family. He has a ton of experience. He is an extension of the coaching staff for us.”
Mackie, 62, played for the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1971-73, then began his athletic training career when he was 21. He spent one year with the Oil Kings, then went to Portland in 1976.
“He spans a few generations,” Williamson said. “It’s amazing how many of those players — Marian Hossa, Brenden Morrow, Cody McLeod and others — still keep in touch with him. He comes across sort of grumpy at times, but he’s got a great sense of humor. He puts a ton of work in, and he does a lot for the players. This is a pretty special thing.”
Mackie worked 33 years for the Winterhawks before new ownership cleaned house after the 2008-09 season, leaving nothing more than the players and the equipment.
Tri-City general manager Bob Tory quickly hired Mackie during the Americans’ 2008-09 playoff run and he has been with the team ever since.
Mackie was part of the Portland Winterhawks Hall of Fame inductions in March 2010, receiving the inaugural Brian C. Shaw award for meritorious service to the organization.
Over the years, Mackie has mended jerseys, sharpened skates and tended to just about anything else a player might need. The rewards have been plentiful.
During Mackie’s tenure, Portland made 27 trips to the playoffs in 33 years and won Memorial Cup championships in 1998 and 1983.
“I think the last count when I was with Portland, there were just over 100 guys who at least had a cup of coffee in the NHL,” Mackie said. “And a couple here with (Brendan) Shinnimin and (Brandon) Carlo. It’s a great job. I don’t view it as a job. I have the best seat in the house most nights, and I have watched a lot of good hockey.”