For me, the TELUS Cup is something special. I’ve been involved with Hockey Canada, and hockey in Canada, for many, many years, and one way or another have always found my way back to Canada’s National Midget Championship.
Over the last 29 years, I’ve had the pleasure of being at six national championships in different capacities, and have been present for some amazing hockey moments.
In 1984, when the format of the tournament changed from a 12-team event featuring champions of Hockey Canada branches to the current six-team regional set up, I was in North Bay, Ont., in my role as an administrator with Midget hockey in Timmins, Ont., and saw the host team, North Bay Pinehill, win gold.
I was there for two national championships as president of the Northern Ontario Hockey Association, in 1993 in Kitchener, Ont., with the bronze medal-winning Soo Legion, and in 1998 in Sudbury, Ont., when the NOHA co-hosted the tournament, and one as president of the Ontario Hockey Federation, in 2003, the last time the event came to Sault Ste. Marie.
And twice in the last three years, in 2011 in St. John’s, N.L., and this year in Sault Ste. Marie, I’ve had the honour of chairing the tournament directorate on behalf of Hockey Canada, and getting to meet some of the amazing people who make the tournament what it is.
The players on the ice are the ones who steal the show, and rightly so, but none of it would be possible without the work behind the scenes – the host committee members who give months of their time, and the volunteers who work tirelessly to make sure the teams need to focus only on hockey.
The TELUS Cup is the only national championship for boys’ minor hockey in Canada; it is the pinnacle of our minor hockey system and represents, for many, the first step on the path to greatness.
Just look at the alumni the tournament has produced – 53 NHL first-round draft picks … three first-overall picks … more than 200 draft selections overall … nine Hockey Hall of Fame inductees … names like Yzerman, Sakic, Roy, Savard, Gartner and MacInnis.
So what does the TELUS Cup mean to me? In one word – tradition. The annual gathering of the nation’s best Midget teams – from 146 to six, the culmination of thousands of games in 16 leagues across 10 provinces, to crown one national champion.
Even after six trips, it doesn’t get old to see the passion these players have for the game, the dedication and commitment to the ultimate goal.
I’ll be honoured today to hand the trophy to the winning captain and conclude another year of minor hockey in Canada.