Harker was a standout hockey player at Denfeld who went on to become
a coach and later a National Hockey League scout.
He grew up as a West-ender, attending Ensign Elementary
and Lincoln Junior High before his time at Denfeld. He played hockey
at the Wheeler rink, which was walking distance from his home on
24th Avenue West and Tenth Street. It’s a walk he often shared
with teammates Bill Larson and Tom Landowski.
At Denfeld, Harker was a three-year letter winner
in hockey and an alternate captain during his senior year in 1962.
He began his college hockey career at the University
of Minnesota Duluth, but after a stint in the Air National Guard
he finished his collegiate career at the University of Wisconsin-Superior,
where he was alternate captain his junior and senior years. He received
a Bachelor of Science degree and a master of engineering degree
in administration from UWS.
Harker began his professional career as a teacher
and coach, first as a graduate assistant at UWS, then as an assistant
at Proctor High School, where he was an elementary teacher. He took
the head hockey coach position at Superior Senior High School in
1970 and remained there until 1977.
He became housing coordinator and head hockey
coach at UWS in 1977. Along with his coaching duties he also became
manager of Wessman Arena in 1979. He held both positions until 1986,
and also became a color commentator for high-school hockey games
and had his own hockey radio program.
He left college hockey to become manager of the
Ice Center in Burnsville from 1986 to ’88 and was promoted
four more times by the city of Burnsville to eventually become director
of recreation and facilities from 1995 to 2009, when he retired.
Harker was project manager for the $20,000,000
Burnsville Performing Arts Center from 2006 to ’09. In recognition
for his efforts on behalf of the city of Burnsville, the city named
its premier rink at the Burnsville Ice Center the Gary R. Harker
He is currently a National Hockey League scout
with the Toronto Maple Leafs, having previously worked for the Colorado
Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings.
Among the awards Harker has received are three
Certificates of Merit from the Wisconsin High School Coaches Association
in the fields of boys’ ice hockey and cross country; three
NAIA Hockey Coach of the Year awards; three Wisconsin Gubernatorial
and Legislative citations for coaching accomplishments; and inductions
into the UW-Superior Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998 and the Wisconsin
Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
Among Harker’s youthful influences he lists
Ray Peterson from the Wheeler rink, Denfeld hockey coach Dick Northey,
and Denfeld teachers Janet Peterson, Frank Puglisi and Ray Mickolajak
for instilling values and life skills, and encouraging goal setting.
“The groundwork done at Denfeld helped me
realize any successes I have had,” he said.
of Fame Members