CALGARY, AB -- Canada's National Men's full-time hockey team program reached its fund raising goal due to a charity auction and alumni donations, and will continue operations for the 1999-2000 season, but some adjustments to the program will be necessary in order for the program to continue long term, the Canadian Hockey Association announced Sunday.
A charity auction and dinner on April 30 in Calgary, organized by Stacey McAlpine of National Sports and Cowboy's nightclub of Calgary, was a huge success, raising $81,000 which allowed the program to reach its funding goal.
Canada's National Team, which has been run as a full-time program since from 1963--present, was instructed in March 1998 by the CHA Officers that much-needed funding for grass roots development programs in Canada had moved the National Team program into a position of finding more revenue. The CHA Officers endorsed the establishment of a National Team Alumni Program to create new revenue sources of $300,000 in order to continue operations beyond the May 1 deadline.
The National Team has been contacting former Olympic and National Team players and staff in the fundraising effort, and has reached its goal. Over 200 National Team Alumni stepped forward with donations to save the program, as did numerous individuals from across Canada.
"We are extremely pleased that a National Team program will continue, still, changes will be needed as we review the budgets and plans for the upcoming season," said Bob Nicholson, President, Canadian Hockey Association. "We also have to look at fundraising opportunities for all of our programs as we move forward."
The fundraising was necessary for the National Team as the priorities of the membership of the CHA are focused on balancing grass roots development programs and initiatives, with the preparation of menâs and womenâs teams for World Championship events.
"The National Team program brings some great history with many elements into Canadian communities on domestic tours, as well as on the international scene," said Tom Renney, Vice-President, Hockey. "This program brings to the rink the ultimate reasons for participation in hockey in Canada, a true representation of our game."
The National Team gives Canada a presence at major international events such as the Spengler Cup, Baltic Cup and Sweden Games, which continue to develop the profile of the Canadian game on the world scene. Canada's record this year was 21-17-9, with gold medal finishes at both the Spengler and VAR Cups.
"To have an opportunity to represent your country internationally as a member of a National Team is a tremendous experience, and this program is vital not only in Canada, but across international hockey circles," said Mike Johnston, Head Coach and General Manager of Canada's National Men's Team.
Canada's National Team participated in the Winter Olympic games in 19, winning silver medals for Canada in 19. NHL players represented Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
The National Team has been a development program for players moving on to sign NHL, minor league and international contracts, as well as giving players the opportunity to travel the world and represent their country. Three NHL teams have come calling this season, with the signings of Fred Brathwaite (Calgary), Shawn Heins (San Jose) and Doug Lidster (Dallas).