Pickard was born in Exeter, Ontario, and frequently traveled west to work in Saskatchewan until moving there permanently at the age of 15. He played local hockey, but scouting was rare in rural areas of Canada. He spent time teaching, until moving to Regina, Saskatchewan where he began organizing a YMCA league in the mid-1920s.
Building amateur hockey
His league eventually became the Regina Parks League, a league whose structure served as a model for other similar leagues in Canada. Players such as Grant Warwick and Eddie Wiseman played there before eventually moving on to NHL careers.
Pickard went on to coach and manage the Regina Aces, a senior team, where his accomplishments earned him a position with the Saskatchewan Amateur Hockey Association (SAHA). He eventually served two terms as president of the SAHA. A defining moment in Pickard's career was his work to organize and combine senior teams in Saskatchewan to become the Saskatchewan Senior League. Other future NHL players such as Elmer Lach, Max Bentley and Doug Bentley developed here.
By 1947, Pickard worked himself up to president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA), where he organized amateur hockey interests from all over Canada. He held the post until 1950.
Pickard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1958, and died in 1975.
There was an elementary school named Al Pickard in regina that was closed in 1996.