Hockey Canada’s annual general meeting provides an opportunity to reflect on the season past, and also to look to the future. This has been a very successful year for our organization and for hockey in Canada.
We strive to be a world sport leader, and without a doubt we have achieved considerable competitive success, provided superior value and support to our members and partners. We continue to seek ways to grow the game through recruitment, event management, and marketing and participant development initiatives at all ages.
Throughout the Hockey Canada world, and with the support of branches, their leagues and minor hockey associations from coast to coast, practices were run, teams were chosen, games were played, clinics held, and medals were won and lost. Thank you to everyone who helped provide opportunities to enjoy our national sport.
The state of the game in our country is strong. This coming year we will celebrate 100 years as an integral part of the Canadian sport landscape. We have had the luxury of inheriting an organization and game from volunteers and employees who have put the interest of the participants first.
Yet, there are challenges we continue to confront and address with respect to reducing violence, barriers to entry, player movement, and competition from entrepreneurs operating outside our organization. Solutions will not always be easy and clear. As we embark on a new era for Hockey Canada in terms of these challenges, as well changes in structure, governance and leadership, we are buoyed by the contribution so many people made and continue to make for our sport and for our organization. Staff members work as if they were volunteers and volunteers work as if they were staff.
Hockey in Canada is a sport, a business, and part of our culture and heritage, but it is also about the people who come to our game and the positive relationships we create, nurture and maintain.
This year’s annual general meeting promises to be a very special, emotional and, at times, even difficult one for me. As you know, I will be stepping down as president and CEO of Hockey Canada on June 1, immediately following the AGM.
It was a tremendously difficult decision to step down, but one I am pleased with. This is the right time for me to exit, and watch Hockey Canada once again reinvent itself and show why the organization is, and always will be, at the forefront of sport organizations, not only in Canada but around the world.
As I come to the end of a memorable 16 years at the helm of Hockey Canada, I am supremely thankful to those who came before me and helped me through this journey.
From David Andrews, who gave me my first opportunity at B.C. Hockey, to Murray Costello, who was a terrific mentor to me as my predecessor in this position at Hockey Canada, and alumni like Wayne Gretzky and Steve Yzerman, who committed themselves to supporting our organization and strived for excellence on behalf of Hockey Canada, there are not enough pages here to thank everyone I should thank, but I will take time to do so personally over the coming months.
I do want to take the time to thank the chairmen I have worked under – Bob MacKinnon, Wayne Russell, Sheldon Lanchbery, Allan Matthews, René Marcil, Dr. Allan Morris, Ken Corbett, Mike Bruni and Jim Hornell. It has been a true pleasure to work for you, and work with you as we tried to continue to grow our game.
Finally, I want to let everyone in attendance at this year’s annual general meeting know just what an honour and privilege it has been for me to work alongside the very lifeblood of this sport in Canada – the volunteers. Your tireless and passionate devotion to our game is unparalleled. In my years in this position and at Hockey Canada, I continued to marvel at the energy you had, and how it served as inspiration to myself and my colleagues in the office to push the boundaries and make the game better.
I will forever treasure the opportunities this organization provided to Lorna and I, as well as to Grant, Mandy and Marijean – as a family, in many ways, we grew up at Hockey Canada.
I may be stepping down June 1, but Hockey Canada will forever stay close to my heart and I will continue to be there for the organization.
It was a great ride.