2017 hcf gala reception
Where hockey thrives
A cornerstone of Canadian junior hockey, London is excited to do its part to support the game at the Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf
Derek Jory
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June 4, 2018
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June is a major month for hockey. The Stanley Cup, the hardest trophy to win in sports, is handed out. NHL awards are bestowed upon the best of the best. The future becomes the present as prospects find homes at the NHL Entry Draft.

There’s another major event in June, however, and this one has London, Ont., buzzing with the possibility of impacting the future of hockey in Canada for years to come.

The 15th annual Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf is set for June 18-19 in London; this year’s gala dinner will celebrate Canada’s rich hockey history, including the 2018 Order of Hockey in Canada honourees, Mike Babcock, Danielle Goyette and Ryan Smyth, and the gold medal-winning National Junior Team from the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Jeff Macoun is leading the charge as chair of the host committee. The executive vice-president with Great-West Life in London helped Tourism London back an unsuccessful bid for the World Juniors last year. Knowing what hockey means to the community and foreseeing the benefits of hosting the Foundation gala, Macoun and company submitted a proposal outlining how they could successfully do just that.

And here we are at the Hockey Canada Foundation’s largest fundraiser of the year.

Macoun said it’s fitting the event will be held at the London Hunt & Country Club and Red Tail Golf Course, because when you think of hockey in Canada, you think of London.

“There aren’t many places in Canada, or perhaps even in the world, where hockey means as much as it does to London,” said Macoun, whose brother Jamie is a Team Canada alumnus. “Hockey is really vibrant throughout the community here; we have great minor hockey systems, a vibrant girls hockey program we’re proud of, and one of the largest sledge hockey federations in the world. That’s without even mentioning the Knights, the pride they bring the city and the success we’ve had producing NHLers over the years.”

The London Knights are a staple in London. The OHL franchise has been a fabric of the community since it was established in 1965 as the Nationals. The four-time Ontario Hockey League champion and two-time Memorial Cup champion Knights rock green, gold and black like no one else and boast sellout crowds of 9,100 with regularity.

The Knights have produced five first-overall selections in the NHL Entry Draft, the most of any team in the world, and London has produced a whopping 142 players drafted into the NHL as of 2017.

Darryl Sittler was the first, Robert Thomas the most recent and in between the likes of Brendan Shanahan, Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, John Tavares, Bo Horvat and Matthew Tkachuk played for the Knights. Corey Perry was also a standout for the Knights and it’s with pride he returns to London as an honorary chair of the HCF Gala & Golf, alongside Mark Hunter, who spent 14 seasons in London as GM of the Knights and is still a co-owner.

Perry is one of 10 Canadians in the exclusive IIHF Triple Gold Club, having won Olympic gold, IIHF World Championship gold and the Stanley Cup. His time in London was a precursor to the success that followed. During his four year OHL career, Perry led the Knights to their first OHL championship and Memorial Cup title in 2005.

In 2011, the Knights retired Perry’s No. 94 and during his emotional speech to the fans, he said London changed his life.

“It’s exciting to see my name up there,” said Perry, looking at the rafters, fighting back tears. “I still remember coming to my first training camp, my parents dropped me off … it changed my whole life coming to London, having all you fans out here to support us.”

Macoun and the host committee for the Gala & Golf are hoping London will continue to change lives in the future. With half of all the net proceeds raised from the event staying in London, that could soon be a reality.

The 2016 Hockey Canada Foundation Gala & Golf left a $269,000 legacy in Nova Scotia, while the 2017 event held in Saskatoon produced a $333,000 legacy plan that targets financial assistance to Saskatoon families, the construction of Merlis Belsher Place at University of Saskatchewan, and visits to 10 northern Saskatchewan communities for Initiation jamborees to introduce five- and six-year-old children to hockey.

“That money will go to girls and boys who probably don’t have a chance to play the game, who don’t economically have the ability to play the game, don’t have the ability to buy the equipment,” said Macoun. “With half the money staying local, we’ll be able to form a legacy program and help the community in London over a number of years. That’s a major goal.

“Another goal is to continue to develop the sledge hockey in the area as well. We want to continue to keep all walks of life involved in minor hockey and keep hockey thriving in London. We want London to be seen as a hockey mecca, one open to future opportunities like the IIHF World Junior Championship and events like that.”

For more information:

Vacant
Director, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4557 

 

Esther Madziya
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6484
emadziya@hockeycanada.ca

 

Spencer Sharkey
Coordinator, Communications
Hockey Canada
403-777-4567 / 905-906-5327 (mobile)
ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

 

Katie Macleod
Coordinator, Media Relations
Hockey Canada
403-284-6427 / 403-612-2893 (mobile)
kmacleod@hockeycanada.ca

 

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