Memorial Cup to boost veterans' unit

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:46 AM ET

The Memorial Cup, it's more than a game.

That's the theme for the May 20-29 tournament at the John Labatt Centre. And with the London Knights as the host team, the Knights want to put something back into the community.

With the Memorial Cup trophy rich in Canadian history, it was felt that the veterans' unit at Parkwood Hospital should be recognized as the official charity of the event.

The local Cup committee is to make the announcement today.

"We've partnered with Parkwood and are remembering the origins of the Cup and the tie-in with the veterans," event manager Paul Hardy said yesterday.

Proceeds from the Knights alumni golf tournament and Knights dressing room tours during the tournament will go to the hospital.

Hardy also said those who have ticket packages but who are unable to attend some games will be able to turn in those tickets for resale, with the proceeds going to Parkwood.

"We're still looking at a few other options" to raise money, Hardy said.

The Memorial Cup was first presented in March 1919 by the Ontario Hockey Association, awarded to honour and remember the young Canadian hockey players who died during the First World War.

The Cup was commissioned by James Richardson, whose brother George was among those who died at the front.

George Richardson had starred with the Kingston Frontenacs' Allan Cup-winning team in 1909. While serving with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Battalion in the Battle of the Somme, Capt. Richardson was shot and died Feb. 9, 1916.

James Richardson donated the Memorial Cup to perpetuate the memory of his brother and it gained immediate acceptance.

That original trophy is now one of the oldest prizes in Canadian sports.

Phil Pritchard, curator and manager of acquisitions at the Hockey Hall of Fame, said the Memorial Cup is the fourth-oldest hockey trophy still being presented. It will be awarded for the 87th time to the Canadian Hockey League champion on May 29.

A large part of the pomp and circumstance at recent tournaments has been devoted to veterans and current military personnel. A poppy has even been incorporated into the official event logo.

"We've really worked to bring back the historic meaning of the Memorial Cup," said David Branch, CHL president and OHL commissioner, who will attend today's event.

The first Memorial Cup was a two-game, total-goal series between the University of Toronto Schools -- the Eastern Canada champions -- and the Regina Pats, champions of Western Canada.

The first game was delayed an hour to allow fans to greet and honour one of the Canadian regiments returning from the Great War.

The Memorial Cup now involves the champions of the Ontario Hockey League, the Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

If the Knights win the OHL, the other league finalist will be designated as host team.

MEMORIAL CUP GAMES

May 21: QMJHL champion vs. host team, 7 p.m.

May 22: WHL champion vs. OHL champion, 4 p.m.

May 23: Host team vs. WHL champion, 8 p.m.

May 24: OHL champion vs. QMJHL champion, 8 p.m.

May 25: WHL champion vs. QMJHL champion, 8 p.m.

May 26: Host team vs. OHL champion, 8 p.m.

May 27: Tie-breaker, if necessary, 3 p.m.

May 28: Semifinal, 4 p.m.

May 29: Final, 4 p.m.

2005 MEMORIAL CUP SCHEDULE OF EVENTS

May 17: London Knights alumni golf tournament, Forest City National. Proceeds to Parkwood Hospital veterans' unit. Phone Gary Robinson, 649-6000.

May 19: Kickoff concert, John Labatt Centre, featuring one of Canada's top bands (still to be confirmed). Further details TBA.

May 20: Opening ceremony, JLC. Details TBA (replaces the parade).

May 20: Opening banquet, London Convention Centre, 6 p.m. Tickets $110 each or $1,000 for table of 10. Phone Joe O'Neill, 640-8012.

May 23: OHL-WHL-QMJHL commissioners' luncheon. Keynote speaker TBA. Hilton Hotel, 12 noon. Tickets TBA. Phone Jacquie Downing, 473-1292.

May 24: CHL awards, Grand Theatre, 2 p.m. Entertainment includes Second City comedy team performing The Puck Stops Here. Tickets TBA. Phone Bill Thomas, 661-1268.

May 27: CHL golf tournament, Sunningdale. Phone Jim Mignault, 679-8993.

May 20-29: Hockey Hall of Fame Legends exhibit, London Covent Garden Market mezzanine. Open during market hours. Free.

May 20-29: London Knights dressing room tours. Times TBA. Silver collection with proceeds to Parkwood Hospital veterans' unit.


Videos

Photos