By: Jay Smith
Dresden’s very own “Mr. Hockey” Keith Babcock is being remembered as a pillar of the community.
An integral piece of the foundation of hockey in Dresden, Babcock is considered by many to be a founding father for the Dresden Jr Kings organization.
As nicknames go, Babcock, a Dresden Sports Hall of Fame inductee, was known to many as “Logger” over the years. In his earlier years on skates, he was also once known as “The Dresden Flash”.
Dave Cameron, President of the Jr Kings says Keith was a tremendous hockey player in his heyday, known for his speed, strength and ability as a playmaker.
There was no local arena for Keith to start his hockey career in the mid-forties. Instead, he and his buddies learned the game and practiced until dark on a frozen Molly’s Creek. But it would eventually take him to Olympia Stadium in Detroit, where Babcock was one of the last cuts from the Red Wings in 1953 during the Original Six era.
Logger’s hockey travels also included stops in Moose Jaw of the WHL, Senior League action on Vancouver Island, Junior hockey in Wallaceburg and Chatham and of course, with his many seasons in Dresden’s new arena as a member of the Intermediate “A” Dresden Lumberkings.
That very arena, now the Ken Houston Memorial Arena, proudly displays the banner of Keith Babcock, right beside that of #5 – Keith’s own son, Shawn Babcock. Following a phenomenal minor league and junior career, Shawn was drafted 48th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. The apple truly doesn’t fall very far from the tree. The story of Keith and Shawn Babcock is a true father and son masterpiece.
But the banner of Logger hanging in the Ken Houston Memorial Arena represents much more than just Keith Babcock’s playing days. Babcock was a tireless volunteer for minor hockey his entire life. From coaching , managing , administrating and sharpening skates for just about every youngster in Dresden as well as his time as a dedicated executive member. Keith was even a part of naming the Dresden Jr Kings organization, keeping the former “Lumberkings” tradition alive.
Babcock was a Life Member of the Dresden Jr Kings executive and could be spotted at the arena every Friday night, dedicated to the local club he loved for all of his days.
“Every Friday night you can find him right here at the Kings game,” says Cameron. “And yet he insists on paying his admission, getting 50/50 tickets, a program, a raffle ticket. We can’t get him NOT to pay, even though he’s a life member.”
Babcock inspired many throughout his time, including the Kings President.
Cameron was a standout baseball player, playing competitively into his adult days, when he was sat down by the former “Dresden Flash”.
“Keith asked me when I was going to give up my playing days,” explains the man known as ‘Mountain’ (everyone in Dresden has to have a nickname, remember). “He told me that sports had been very good to me and that I should start thinking about being good to sports and my community in return.”
He is just one of many who Keith and his family have inspired over the years.
Cameron says the Jr Kings will be celebrating the memory and contributions of Babcock and several others who have been lost in the community throughout the pandemic once fans and community members can return to the local rink.
Keith Babcock passed away last Friday. He was 86 years old. Keith is survived by his beloved wife of 67 years, Donna, as well as children Doug (Pauline), Lori, Lynn (Will) and Shawn. A beloved gramps and great-grandpa, Babcock was also an employee of Dresden PUC for 42 years.
LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH DRESDEN JR KINGS PRESIDENT DAVE CAMERON AND 99.1’S JAY SMITH BELOW – REMEMBERING KEITH BABCOCK: