(photo: Hockey Canada)
Wrapping up Hockey Canada’s 95th AGM must have been bittersweet – it was the opportunity for more than 250 hockey thought-leaders to say farewell to Bob Nicholson when the meetings wrapped Sunday in Calgary, AB. Nicholson officially ended his tenure June 1 after 16 years at the helm of Canada’s hockey governing body. In a fitting tribute, the room was filled with red and white as attendees donned personalized Team Canada jerseys for Nicholson’s final address as CEO of the organization.
“I cannot say thank you enough to the Hockey Canada staff, volunteers, players, coaches, officials and parents who have made these last 16 years so memorable,” said Nicholson in a statement released May 31. “It has been quite a ride, and I am so excited about where our game is on and off the ice. Canadian hockey is in great hands, and the future is bright.”
“On behalf of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors and every single Canadian involved in hockey from coast to coast, we thank Bob for his tireless efforts to improve the game,” added Jim Hornell, chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors. “There will be another president and CEO, but there will not be another Bob Nicholson.”
This year’s AGM also marked the official launch of Hockey Canada’s 100th anniversary celebration after the organization’s inception on December 4, 1914 when it was then known as the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association. The organization has grown exponentially over the years to become the national governing body for grassroots hockey in the country. Hockey Canada works with 13 provincial branches, the Canadian Hockey League and Canadian Interuniversity Sport in growing the game at all levels.
Further information on the centennial celebrations will be released in the coming weeks, culminating with a news conference in Toronto on June 26, 2014. As a teaser, it has been revealed that the organization will visit more than 100 communities and engage more than one million Canadians. Additionally, Hockey Canada will partner with USA Hockey to curb violence in the game, arguably in an bid to align with Hockey Canada’s beliefs in “a positive hockey experience for all participants in a safe, sportsmanlike environment,” as outlined in its Annual Report released June 2, 2014.
Another item to arise from the AGM is a new governance structure, which will see the current Board of Directors reduced from 26 members to nine. This is to comply with the federal government`s Not-For-Profit Corporations Act, and no doubt to streamline leadership. Also, communication between the Board and its branches will be improved by a branch forum. Under this new structure, Hockey Canada councils will continue meeting twice a year, while standing committees will be reduced from 26 to eight.
Finally, the AGM gave delegates the opportunity to honour community leaders from across the country in an awards banquet held in the evening on Thursday May 31, the first day of the meetings. The awards gala recognizes those who have contributed to the growth of hockey throughout Canada, and one nod went to Nancy Wilson of London, ON. Wilson, the first woman inducted into the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame, has spent the past 15 years growing hockey locally in British Columbia, throughout Canada, and also on the international stage. Specifically, Wilson helped grow women’s hockey by serving in roles with B.C. Hockey, University of British Columbia, Team B.C. and Canada’s National Women’s Under-22 team. Wilson was also assistant coach with Canada’s National Women’s Team.
The awards carry particular weight for recipients as they are peer-nominated. Nominations are accepted from all 13 member branches, and the winners are whittled down and ultimately selected by Hockey Canada’s selection committee.