It was while growing up in Port Arthur during the 1960s and 70s that this future coach, instructor and author developed his strong foundation in sport. A standout in high school athletics at Port Arthur Collegiate Institute, his exceptional talents on the ice saw him as a top scoring MVP. A first round draft pick of the OHL London Knights in 1973, he was selected 23rd overall by the California Golden Seals in the 1976 NHL draft, going on to spend time in the pro ranks in the Central Hockey League and skating in four NHL games with the Cleveland Barons, before being forced off the ice due to injuries.
Retiring as a player in 1981, he continued to remain involved in hockey going on to devote the next four decades to passing along his knowledge and appreciation for the game to others. His over twenty-five year coaching career saw him lead such teams as the University of Windsor Lancers and a number of junior teams, including the Windsor Spitfires, claiming Coach of the Year honours, league and division titles, and the designation of Master Mentor Coach.
Throughout his close to 30 year university teaching career he produced academic articles and research papers on various aspects of sport and in 1994 obtained his Doctorate of Education. He has authored, co-authored and advised on a number of hockey books which have been widely used throughout Canada, the US and other hockey playing nations. Called upon by Bobby Orr to help him write his first ever authorized memoir, Orr: My Story, the book went on to reach #4 on the New York Times best seller list.
Actively involved with Hockey Canada for close to two decades, he has served on a number of national committees, authored manuals and conducted research projects and seminars. His expertise in organizational development has also been called upon by a variety of sport organizations. A driving force behind the Chevrolet Safe and Fun Hockey Program he has directly influenced grass roots hockey development through the publication A Parent's Approach with over half a million manuals distributed to parents to help teach respect and responsibility in the game. In 2003 he was awarded the Bill Richmond Memorial Award by the Ontario Hockey Federation for his outstanding service to the development of hockey in Ontario. By taking the lessons he first learned on the rinks of Port Arthur, and passing them along to others, Dr. Vern Stenlund has truly left his mark on the hockey world.
Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 26, 2015