The Maple Leaf, Our Emblem Dear - The Maple Leaf Forever Article by: Doug Pitkin Photo Credit: NHL.com
Once again, the Maple Leafs paid homage to this nations military at a touch ceremony at Scotiabank Arena.
Present day Maple Leaf Management does it right! Kudos to Brendan Shanahan and team!!
An emotional pregame ceremony began with a video message from Corporal Jeremy Hillson, 3rd Royal Canadian Regiment – Iraq. In his message, Corporal Hillson thanked the Maple Leafs Organization for remembering and honouring the Canadian Military and their families. Next, the audience was introduced to his wife Jennifer, his daughter Dakota and son Mason who were selected to represent all Canadian military personnel and families during a ceremonial face off between visiting Pittsburgh Penguins star forward Sydney Crosby (a hero of many Canadian on ice heroics) and emerging star Maple Leaf defenseman Morgan Rielly.
But wait a moment, there was no puck in sight!
The Maple Leafs stunned the packed house and even their own players and coaches when all of a sudden Mike Ross announced that Corporal Hillson was walking towards center ice to a tearful family reunion and a moment for all in attendance for many years.
It was epic!
A special salute to over 400 season ticket holders who surrendered their seats for military personnel, it wasn’t really the gift but an experience of a life time to those that serve this nation and home and abroad.
Why does this mean so much, coming from this organization?
Here’s a brief history of this iconic franchise and it’s shared history with our military.
It is said that we were defined as a nation by the determination of will, inner strength and courage of our soldiers in the Battle of Vimy Ridge – April 1917, World War I.
Considered by many as the birthplace of Canadian Pride and Awareness and with the majority of Canadian regiments wore a maple leaf badge.
The man behind the name change from Toronto St Pat’s to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1927 was Conn Smythe. Once Mr. Smythe became part of the management group of this storied franchise, he lead the charge of change. Conn Smythe embodied qualities and characteristics of a Canadian Soldier and was no stranger to wartime heroics, decorated with the Military Cross for his actions in the Battle of Ypres in April 1917.
At 45 years of age, Conn Smythe signed up to stand his post again and this time, he brought along his own Maple Leafs, a list that included Syl Apps, Turk Broda, Jack Church, Bob Davidson, Hap Day, Gord Drillon, Hank Goldup, Reg Hamilton, Red Heron, Phil Stein, and Billy Taylor, all of whom joined the Toronto Scottish. Don and Nick Metz joined the Regina Rifles, while Pete Langelle and Wally Stanowski joined the Winnipeg Rifles. Bucko McDonald joined the Grey and Simcoe Foresters. Bingo Kampman joined a regiment in Kitchener and Lex Chisholm joined up in Oshawa.
The iconic Canadian Maple Leaf symbol, Canadian Soldiers Courage and the Toronto Maple Leafs logo – to say they are a perfect marriage is an understatement. It was destined to happen and it is full of Honour, Pride and Courage, these very words sewn prominently on the inside collar of every jersey, worn by each Maple Leaf, every game.
These are the reasons why for each player that pulls that blue and white jersey over his head, feels the shiver of a nation and it’s people pride.
Honour, Pride and Courage