Painter Richard Hubal is putting the finishing touches on a hockey-themed mural in South St. Paul that pays homage to the game and the city’s hometown stars.
Included are such South St. Paul hockey greats as former Gophers coach Doug Woog, NHL Hall of Famer Phil Housley and three Packers linemates — Felicia Nelson, Ashley Young and Maggie Fisher — who brought the town state championships in 2002, 2003 and 2005.
But the mural, painted on a 52-foot-by-4-foot retaining wall at Hat Trick Liquors, is also a who’s who of Minnesota sports, with the Purple People Eaters, Kevin Garnett, Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris among the nearly 200 faces in the crowd.
“There’s so much history on this wall,” Dennis Keil, owner of Hat Trick Liquors at 1150 Southview Blvd., said one afternoon this week. Keil, a hardcore hockey fan who grew up on the Iron Range, commissioned Hubal, one of the area’s most prolific mural painters, last month after the 61-year-old artist finished a mural at Hamernick’s Decorating on St. Paul’s Rice Street.
Hubal, who moved to South St. Paul from Woodbury two years ago, added lots of surprises to the hockey mural as “a way to keep people’s eyes moving throughout the piece.”
“Here’s Bob Dylan and Prince,” Hubal said this week, pointing out how the music icons are sitting next to each other. “He looks like he’s trying to aggravate Bob.”
Hubal’s sense of humor and hockey knowledge are scattered throughout the mural.
He put Norm Green, the reviled North Stars owner who moved the franchise to Dallas, in the “Forever Penalty Box,” which has a lock on it.
“He’ll be taking penalties forever,” Hubal said.
Alfred E. Neuman, the MAD magazine mascot, wears a Washington Capitals jersey to represent the team’s measly eight-win 1974-75 season.
“The worst team ever,” Hubal said.
He added a few Hollywood celebrities, such as Paul Newman and the Carlson Bros./Hanson Bros. from the “Slap Shot” movies, as well as Keanu Reeves and Paris Hilton, both whom played hockey in high school. “Not many people know that (the hotel heiress) played hockey,” Hubal said.
Local radio and TV sports broadcasters Al Shaver, Bob Kurtz and Herb Carneal are included, as is Maynard Oster, the longtime P.A. guy for high school hockey at South St. Paul’s Wakota Arena, which was renamed Doug Woog Arena last year.
“We’ve got all sorts of people, some known, some not so much,” Hubal said. “That’s why I put their names underneath or above them. People can Google them.”
On the ice are former NHL players Cesare Maniago, Housley, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull, Brad Park, Gordie Howe, Larry Robinson, Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and Johnny Bower, sans a goaltending mask.
“They are the legends,” Hubal said.
Players on the bench include Minnesotans Steve Janaszak, Neal Broten, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter and South St. Paulites Justin Faulk, Alex Stalock and Adam Wilcox.
Hubal said he started on one end of the ice rink with the people who first came to mind: Herb Brooks, Lou Nanne, John Mariucci, Woog, Shaver, Henry Boucha, Bill Masterson and Bill Chadwick, the NHL’s first U.S.-born referee.
“Here are the 1980 U.S. players, of course,” Hubal said, pointing to the Olympic gold-medal team.
Because of his proximity to the liquor store entrance and Southview Boulevard, Hubal has been hearing suggestions almost daily on whom to include.
“South St. Paul digs this because it’s hockey … and they love hockey,” he said. “They come here to look and watch. One guy drove up like he owned the wall. He got out and he looked and said, ‘Where’s Ashley Young at?’ I said, ‘Right over there.’ He walked to it, took a few pictures and said, ‘That’s my niece. I drove an hour to get here to see it.’
“People are having fun with this. I’ve had fun doing this. It just makes you smile. It’s amazing what you can do with a retaining wall.”