Sportsnet analyst impressed by Formation Halifax athletes
By Ryan Melanson,
As a former NHL head coach and general manager, and now as a hockey analyst with Sportsnet, Doug MacLean has seen it all through his 30+ year hockey career. But despite that experience at the pro level, the accomplishments, medals, and championships racked up by the athletes of the Canadian Armed Forces are no less impressive.
“I really do appreciate the chance to come here and marvel at the careers some of these people have, and the way they’re able to excel in sports and win these championships while also serving our country,” MacLean said during his keynote speech at the 16th Annual CFB Halifax Sports Recognition Breakfast on October 16.
“Us hockey guys talk about needing to win battles, or being in the trenches, or that we’re going to war on the ice, and it all seems a little misguided when I meet the folks here and hear about what they do everyday in their jobs.”
MacLean, originally from Prince Edward Island, is a former coach of the University of New Brunswick hockey team who found his way to NHL head coaching jobs with the Florida Panthers and Columbus Blue Jackets, along with nearly a decade as President and GM, also with the Blue Jackets. He spoke to attendees about the thrill of coaching hockey at the highest level, the enjoyment he’s found in moving his career to the broadcasting side of the sport, and joked about the frustrations of constantly being mistaken for Ron Maclean, his broadcasting colleague and sidekick to Don Cherry on Hockey Night in Canada.
MacLean got a warm introduction at Juno Tower courtesy of PSP Halifax Sports Stores Technician and event emcee Wally Buckoski, who suited up with a jersey, helmet and hockey stick to give a recap of MacLean’s career. He highlighted the way MacLean worked to get NHL opportunities for other maritimers, including current Las Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and former NHL player and current Blue Jackets front office employee Joey Shelley.
“That’s just the kind of guy he is; he’s a great guy and a true maritimer. We’re so happy to have him here,” Buckowski said.
MacLean gave credit to the many who’ve supported him through the years during long playoff runs, constant travel and the other day-to-day aspects of professional sports, with a focus on his wife Jill and kids Clark and Mackenzie.
“It’s amazing how critical the family support is when you’re in the NHL and trying to go through your career, and I know the same is true for members of the Armed Forces.”
Of course, the main focus of the Sports Recognition Breakfast are the awards themselves, presented to athletes who’ve worked hard over the past year. Winners included:
Campus atlantic (winners for both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons)
HMCS Halifax (winners for both 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 seasons)
423 MH Squadron (2016-2017) and 12 AMS (2017-2018)
CAF Sports Honour Roll
2017 inductee WO Charlene Arsenault
CAF Sports Hall of Fame
2017 inductee the late Sgt (Ret’d) Rob Sneath
Rob Sneath Memorial Award
Formerly the CFB Halifax Dedication Award, now renamed after Sgt (Ret’d) Sneath to honour his dedication to CAF hockey and willingness to give back to the sport. This year’s award was presented to PO1 Danny Wilson for his dedication to the CFB Halifax curling club.
Alexander Keith’s Award
Shearwater Old Timer’s Hockey team – 2018 CAF National Champions
Admiral Jones Shield Award
Presented to LS Chris West for his conduct, sportsmanship and character in supporting Formation sports.
Excellence in Health Promotion Award
PO1 Charles Bressette
Environmental nominee – MARLANT Male Athlete of the Year
Lt(N) Michael Bergeron -running/joggling
Environmental nominee – MARLANT Female Athlete of the Year
WO Charlene Arsenault – hockey/running
Environmental nominee – MARLANT Team of the Year
CFB Halifax Men’s Basketball – CAF regional champions for 16 years in a row.
Environmental nominee – MARLANT Official of the Year
Capt Steven Stuart – volleyball
Environmental nominees move on to be considered for awards at the upcoming CAF National Sports Award Ceremony in Ottawa. Also recognized at the ceremony were the many teams and individuals from Formation Halifax who won Regional and National gold medals over the past year.
Organizers of this year’s Sports Recognition Breakfast gave thanks to the many sponsors who made the day possible, including Alexander Keith’s, Ultra Electronics, Lasik MD, Via Rail, Canadian Springs, the Halifax Mooseheads, CANEX, and many more.