When Dennis Bonvie arrived in Wilkes-Barre back in 1999, he had no idea of the impact he would make on his new team, let alone hockey fans in Northeast Pennsylvania.
But he certainly sees the mark he’s left now.
Bonvie was among the dozen figures inducted into the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday night at the Best Western Genetti Hotel & Conference Center in downtown Wilkes-Barre. He’s the first member of the Penguins to receive the honor from the local organization.
But it wasn’t an honor Bonvie was expecting until he received a phone call two months ago.
“I was kind of in awe, I didn’t know what to say,” he stated from the podium in a packed ballroom. “Anytime you can be part of a hall of fame with these special people, these special athletes, you say yes right away.”
Already a seasoned-pro of six seasons, Bonvie joined the Penguins organization just prior to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s first training camp, and spent two years with the club. He experienced the lows (a last place finish in the team’s inaugural season) and highs (a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in the second) in a short amount of time.
But it was the thrills, big hits and fisticuffs that he displayed that turned the what was officially known as the Northeastern Pennsylvania Civic Arena and Convention Center into the “House That Bonvie Built.”
Bonvie spent considerable time away from the rink engaging with fans throughout the area, endearing himself to hockey aficionados and newcomers alike. He never shied away from a photo or autograph, and generously donated time to community appearances and charity events.
The native of Antigonish, Nova Scotia left the area after the 2000-01 campaign, but returned to the Penguins four years later to great fanfare. He spent the final three seasons of his 15-year pro career with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, before hanging up the skates at the conclusion of the 2007-08 campaign.
But that was hardly the last Penguins fans would see of Bonvie, as he and his family (wife Kelly, son Rhys, and daughter Davyn) continue to reside in Luzerne County today.
“I came here not knowing what Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania was,” said Bonvie. “It’s our second home now.”
For more information on the Luzerne County Sports Hall of Fame, visit the organizations official website.