After 16 years at the helm, today Bob Nicholson announced he will be stepping down as Hockey Canada’s President & CEO. Nicholson leaves a legacy of success both at home at the grassroots level, as well as on the international stage. Nicholson’s resignation is effective June 1, 2014 and during the coming months Hockey Canada’s Board of Directors have the tough task of finding Nicholson’s replacement.
In an emotional news conference this afternoon in Etobicoke, ON, Bob Nicholson made the announcement official after news broke yesterday. With tears in his eyes, he thanked his wife Lorna and his two daughters, Mandi and Marijean, and his son, Grant – appropriately dubbed by Jim Hornell, Chairman of the Board of Directors, as “the first family of hockey.” Nicholson also stressed the importance of countless volunteers who make the game possible. “It’s all about volunteers, this game,” he said appreciatively.
An inductee into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, Nicholson was humble in his address. He talked of his pride winning gold for the first time in 50 years in Salt Lake City, and spoke fondly of his memories at Vancouver 2010 and, more recently, in Sochi. Too modest to list his accomplishments himself, under Nicholson’s leadership Hockey Canada has secured an impressive 76 medals at world championships, Olympics and World Cups, including 44 gold medals. Summarized eloquently by Jim Hornell, Nicholson is responsible for “building the cultural fabric of our nation.”
Born in Pemberton, BC, Nicholson has played an integral role in building the game of hockey in Canada from coast to coast. During his tenure at Hockey Canada, Nicholson implemented skills development programs and high performance programs, as well as lending his leadership to corporate sales and marketing, communications, licensing, insurance and regulations. He is responsible for the growth of grassroots initiatives including the Hockey Canada Skills Academy and the Initiation Program, in addition to providing teaching resources and improving on-ice safety. Put simply, Nicholson has helped build the game we all know and love.
“I have mixed emotions in making this announcement, as it marks an end to an extraordinary part of my life, but I think the time is right for me personally to step down,” said Nicholson in a statement issued today. “I want to thank the Hockey Canada Board of Directors, the volunteers and the staff of Hockey Canada for their support over the past 16 years. The hockey family is a close one, so I have many colleagues and friends around the world that have also played a large part in my life; I also want to thank them. Finally and most importantly, I want to thank my wife, Lorna, and my children, Mandi, Marijean and Grant, who have been by my side for this entire journey.”
Hornell added, “On behalf of the board of Hockey Canada, but also on behalf of the millions of Canadians involved in the game of hockey, I want to thank Bob Nicholson for his outstanding service to our organization, and also to hockey in Canada and around the world. I would personally like to wish Bob well in his future endeavours, and thank him for a legacy of success and professionalism that he has helped grow at Hockey Canada.”
During today’s announcement Nicholson said with a smile, “To the media. 90% of you have been real fair with me,” prompting the packed news conference to erupt into laughter. In another lighter moment from today’s news conference, Jim Hornell spoke of his reaction to hearing Nicholson’s plans yesterday. He explained his shock and disappointment, expressed his appreciation and gratitude, and quipped, “You would have to be a darn fool to leave this.”
And finally a personal note to Bob Nicholson. On behalf of our players, our coaches, our volunteers, our fans, and every child across the nation who dreams of stepping on the ice wearing red and white for their country. We thank you wholeheartedly.