Veterans key focus of event

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

Lest we forget. The Canadian Hockey League certainly won't.

Its championship trophy is named to honour the Canadian hockey players who died in the First World War, but the CHL is paying more than just lip service to the Memorial Cup, donated in 1919.

A poppy has even been incorporated into the official event logo.

At recent Memorial Cup tournaments, a large part of the pomp and circumstance has been devoted to the veterans and current military personnel.

That's in the plans for the 2005 tournament when it's held in London in May.

"We've really worked to bring back the historic meaning of the Memorial Cup," says David Branch, president of the CHL and commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League.

"We realize the importance of why it was first donated and we feel that should never be lost. We need to be telling the story to our young people, particularly at the Memorial Cup, and we need to be getting that story out there as often as we can."

Branch says the inclusion of the poppy in the logo "is a symbolic gesture of remembrance.

"There certainly are a number of groups and people who deserve credit that we are growing once again the awareness of the great world wars to honour those who made the supreme sacrifice and also send a message we cannot afford to see anything like this occur ever again.

"We sometimes lose sight of the fact how fortunate we are to live in Canada, and we should never lose what our roots are. That happens through education."

CUP FESTIVITIES

Banquet: May 20, London Convention Centre. The official opening event with all participating teams involved. Tickets will be available for public sale.

Opening ceremony: May 21, before the first game at the John Labatt Centre.

Interactive fan zone: May 21-29, outside the JLC. Will feature interactive games and displays.

Fanfest: May 21-29, outside the JLC. Will include a beer garden and live telecasts of the games.

CHL awards ceremony: May 24, Grand Theatre. This will recognize the individual award winners of the Canadian Hockey League.

London Knights alumni golf tournament: Date to be determined. Proceeds going to the veteran's wing at Parkwood Hospital.


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