Friday, October 19, 2018

Memorial Cup: Trophy all about honouring sacrifice

Parkwood Hospital visit ties together veterans and junior hockey
Memorial Cup tourney starts tonight in London
By Mark Schadenberg
LONDON – If a portion of the 401 highway east of Toronto towards Trenton can be re-named the Highway Of Heroes, the residents' portion of Parkwood Hospital in London should be called the Hallways Of Heroes.
With the 2014 Memorial Cup hockey tournament in London, I was given a special opportunity to attend a reception with Second World War veterans and the Memorial Cup trophy at Parkwood on Thursday (May 15) morning.
The brief ceremony - accompanied later by photos taken with the CHL championship trophy for attendees – included the many veterans who reside at Parkwood along with the three CHL league commissioners (David Branch of the OHL was present) and Memorial Cup ( chair Trevor Whiffen. Both Branch and Whiffen noted that respective family members had served Canada overseas in the military. 
My invitation was courtesy of London Knights alumni chair and Rogers TV commentator Rick Doyle and from long-time Parkwood employee / RN Janice Norris.
It was a humbling experience to witness a large group of veterans – all Canadian heroes and certainly hockey fans – be part of the connection between the sport's most recognized to Canada's forces past or present.
Branch, who is also president of the CHL, spoke about the trophy's history as it was dedicated in 1919 following the end of the First World War and then re-dedicated as recently as 2010 to recognize, honour and remember all Canadians who had represented our country in any previous international conflict and killed in active duty.
The Memorial Cup committee in London, explained Whiffen, has vowed to raise a minimum of $50,000 for Parkwood through various charitable ventures during the tourney.
This was not my first visit to Parkwood courtesy of Janice Norris as I had previously attended – 4 years ago – a Remembrance Day ceremony at the hospital / residence (Janice told me there are over 200 patients at Parkwood currently and naturally many more out-patients who visit for physio and other appointments) on the southeast corner of Wellington and Commissioners in London. I regularly attend the Woodstock cenotaph on Nov. 11, but the privilege to spend time at Parkwood on that solemn day leaves an indelible mark with me.
Little did I know that very same day, as I did not inquire which room Woodstock's POW survivor Ed Bennett resided in, the remarkable life of Mr Bennett also ended that day, passing away at the age of 97 on Remembrance Day. Edwin Bennett was a giant in Woodstock – a hero is an understatement as Bennett was a great citizen as athlete, volunteer, philanthropist, historian, and organizer with a brilliant mind and the ability to truly love his community and country.
Hockey & War Ties
Another tie to hockey and war is the fact that the OHL most outstanding player (Voted on by OHL media members, including myself) every season is recognized with the Red Tilson Trophy. Won this past season by Maple Leafs prospect and OHL scoring champion Connor Brown of the Erie Otters, this trophy was named for Red Tilson, who was a member of the Oshawa Generals and killed in 1945 during the Second World War. Tilson would have become a NHL star as he led the OHL in scoring with Oshawa in 1942-43 with 57 points before his club lost to Winnipeg in the Memorial Cup final.

Following that season, Tilson, with what looked like a long promising career in hockey ahead of him, enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces. In October 1944, Tilson was killed in action in Holland. The Generals have won four Memorial Cups and have produced hundreds of players who have gone on to careers in pro hockey, many of them in the Hockey Hall of Fame. But, the honour of the first banner going up in the new arena was reserved for Tilson, with his number 9 being raised to the roof before the November 12th, 2006 game.
A very special ceremony was held before the game to honour all of Canada’s veterans on the day after Remembrance Day, with Tilson’s banner being raised at its conclusion.

Highway Of Heroes
By the way, The Trews (Highway Of Heroes – song) will be part of the Memorial Cup as well, performing (today) on Friday, May 16 during the first game of the 4-team tournament – London versus Val D'Or - and post-game outside in the beer garden.
I'm not penning this to promote the best junior hockey teams in the CHL as they vie for the CHL title for 2014, but rather my genuine thoughts on service to our country. Both my parents were born in Europe and immigrated to our wonderful country after the Second World War.
As for the clubs competing, I'm looking forward to Anthony Mantha of Val D'Or as he has 81 goals in 81 games, including the playoffs. Mantha is also a first-round pick of the Red Wings, and maybe most importantly led Canada in scoring at the world juniors with five goals and six assists.
The Guelph Storm is a terrific hockey club and deserve to be OHL champions (52-12-2-2) as they led the regular season and were 16-4 in their playoff run. The Storm include several high-end players such as Scott Kosmachuk, Matt Finn (Leafs prospect could be in NHL next year), Robby Fabbri (Should be a top 10 pick in this year's draft), Jason Dicksinson, Brock McGinn, Zack Mitchell, and were sparked by trade-deadline addition Kerby Rychel who seemed to scorer every time Guelph needed a clutch goal.
Edmonton Oil Kings might be the team to beat with Curtis Lazar (Super prospect of Ottawa Senators), Henrik Samuelsson, Brett Pollock, and Griffin Reinhart (Islanders 4th overall pick). Lazar and Reinhart were also Team Canada competitors at the world juniors.

Wikipedia: Highway 401
 On August 24, 2007, the portion of the highway between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the DonValley Parkway Highway 404 Junction in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes, as the road is travelled by funeral convoys for fallen CanadianForces personnel from CFBTrenton to the coroner's office in Toronto 


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