The world of hockey rendezvoused in Toronto over the past few days. Indeed some of the most important people in Canada's favourite sport spent time socializing, investigating and, in one case, taking shots at a hockey organization.
The latter event took place when Peter Stastny, a Hockey Hall of Famer and member of the European Parliament, was asked why he is no longer general manager of the Slovak national team, the team he guided as general manager to the world title in 2002.
Stastny, who scored 483 goals and some 1,250 points for Quebec, New Jersey and St. Louis, explained why he's no longer in charge of Team Slovakia.
With rising blood pressure, he exclaimed: "Those old communist officials didn't want any part of me. They could hardly wait for my contract to expire about 18 months ago and refused to renew it. They were so well organized that when it came to the vote on my contract, all seven officials turned their thumbs down.
"However, I don't miss it. I spend most of my time in the European Parliament in Brussels and some time in Bratislava and St. Louis. Parliament fascinates me. I'm also very proud watching my son, Paul, play so well for the Colorado Avalanche. At one time, I ruled the Stastny family on the ice. Now Paul is the champion of the family."
HOCKEY'S BIG NAMES
Stastny wasn't the only big hockey name in town. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and his wife, Shelley, led the parade of officials to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at BCE Place on Monday, accompanied by Colin Campbell, the NHL vice-president known as the "hanging judge," as well as vice-president of communications Bernadette Mansur.
Other out-of-town guests included Borje Salming, a Maple Leafs all-time fan favourite; Jan-Ake Edvinsson, former secretary general of the International Ice Hockey Federation with his son, Thomas, an excellent Swiss tennis player and Szymon Szemberg, communications director of the IIHF.
Otawa's Murray Costello, a former NHLer and Canadian council member of the IIHF, announced the planned program for the centennial celebrations, including the establishment of the Victoria Cup for which a top NHL team and a top European team will vie. Also, the IIHF will honour the 19 members of the Triple Gold Club, players who won gold medals in the Olympics, world championships and who were members of a Stanley Cup winning team.
No, there is no Leaf among them.
DISA AND DATA
The late Steve Stavro, former chairman of Toronto Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Inc., was a well known philantropist. About 20 years ago, he donated a large sum of money to the Toronto East General and they named the emergency department "The Stavro Critical Care Centre." This morning there will be a celebration of the expansion of the Stavro Critical Care Centre at the hospital. The Stavro family will attend ... Former Hockey Night in Canada executive producer Ralph Mellanby recently visited his hometown of Essex as part of a promotional tour for his book Walking with Legends ... On Nov. 20, Mellanby will induct George Retzlaff, the founding producer of sports at the CBC, into the CBC Hall of Fame ... Belated congratulations to Nadja Bratic who won a silver medal in the world karate championships in Istanbul. She and her sister, Ada, were the only athletes from the Western Hemisphere to win medals in Turkey. Moreover, Nadja won a gold medal in the junior Pan Ams. Well done! ... Nelson Ndereva Njeru of the George Brown cross-country team, was named OCAA's male athlete of the week while Kaitlyn McKenna of the Niagara Knights basketball team was the female athlete of the week. The OCAA women's team of the week is the Durham Lords soccer team and the men's honours went to the Humber Hawks rugby team...The Ontario Tennis Association honoured posthumously Bill Knowles, who was a stalwart organizer in the Scarboro Tennis Association and Mary Ann Pilskalnietis, who helped develop and expand the Scarborough College Tennis Club.