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News - All - 14 May 2008

News Item 3740 of 4386 

Veterans: 14 May 2008
The Memorial Cup: LEST WE FORGET

The Kitchener Rangers will wear something different against Gatineau at the Aud.
Credit: The Record

Tomorrow. May 15th, marks the start of the 2008 Memorial Cup Tournament with opening ceremonies which will once again focus on the remembrance aspect of the cup itself. To that end it is fitting that the cup is to be played in the Kitchener Auditorium which was in itself built as a memorial to war veterans.

The Memorial Cup has been junior hockey’s most sought after honour since the spring of 1919. Author Scott Young recounted it in his book ‘100 Years of Dropping the Puck: A History of the OHA’, the trophy was born at the annual meeting of the Ontario Hockey Association in December of 1918.

"One of the most lasting decisions of that annual meeting, however, was not concerned with playing rules,” Young wrote. "This was agreement that the OHA should establish a memorial ‘of some enduring character, to OHA members who have fallen on the fields of war.' This, done immediately, was called the OHA Memorial Cup, for Canada-wide competition among junior teams.

Today it is almost impossible to fathom exactly the sentiments felt by those gentlemen in that meeting held just one month after the war ended.

In our modern age we are uncomfortable when we hear of a soldier lost in Afghanistan. But 90 years ago this year a much greater conflict had just ended.

During the “Great War”, a name which is now deemed sarcastic at best, approximately 620,000 young Canadian men volunteered, or were later conscripted, to go fight in Flanders Fields. Of those around 60,000 never returned, and 172,000 returned with wounds. So many more returned mentally scarred for life.

Think for a moment on those numbers.

The population of Canada at the time was a mere 8 million. Assuming a fifty percent gender split that’s 4 million males, of which around 666,000 were between the age of 18 and 30.

For four years, almost an entire generation of young men left for war.

Of those, almost 10 percent never came back.

Of those that did make it back alive, over a quarter bore injuries. Many blinded and maimed.

Listed Hockey Players Lost

Surprisingly, I could find only two Hockey Players listed as killed during the first world war.

Allan "Scotty" Davidson

Davidson was one of the more phenomenal talents of his time. He dominated in juniors and was an impact player in the NHA. He was remembered as a powerful skater with a lethal shot who back-checked responsibly and played the game cleanly.

Davidson learned the game under the coaching of Captain James T. Sutherland. Davidson was a standout on the Kingston Frontenacs, a junior team, in 1909–10 and 1910–11 when they captured the OHA title both years. During the second triumph, Davidson led the club back from a three-goal deficit in the first game to send them on their way.

In 1912–13, Davidson was signed by the Toronto Blueshirts of the NHA. He lined up at right wing and quickly made himself indispensable with 19 goals in 20 games. The next year he scored 23 times and was the captain on the squad that won the Stanley Cup in 1914.

Allan Davidson enlisted for military service after World War I broke out in 1914 and was a lance-corporal when he was killed in Belgium on June 16, 1915, he is commemorated on the Vimy Memorial. The former star took his place in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950.

George Richardson

George Richardson (1887 in Kingston, Ontario – February 9, 1916) was a Canadian amateur ice hockey defenseman who played for Queen's University.
George was regarded as one of the best hockey players of his era, either professional or amateur. War was declared in Canada in August 1914 and Richardson joined the army. He was initially a Lieutenant and held the rank of Captain when he was killed in combat on February 9th 1916. Richardson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950.

So Many more unknown names!

Despite the short official list, one can only imagine just how many other talented young men would never fulfill their roles in society, either as Hockey players or elsewhere.

The Memorial Cup Meaning

Despite the fact that today the Memorial Cup is a very Hockey thing, one has to believe that the feelings that went down in that board room so long ago went much deeper than just a sport.

In a time when a whole nation was in shock, where almost everyone knew someone who had lost a son or were caring for a wounded broken child, you have to realize that the meaning of the memorial cup was so much more.

The parade tomorrow, and the pavilion events, will focus heavily on that remembrance. The Cup itself will be escorted by the Canadian Military and followed by ranks of Veterans.

Our own Kitchener Rangers will wear a special commemorative uniform for the first game against Gatineau at the Aud. The uniforms, honouring those who served in the First World War, were partly inspired by old British recruitment posters. Lord Kitchener, then Britain's secretary of war, was featured on some of the posters. After the Friday night game, the uniforms will be auctioned off to benefit the K-W Poppy Fund.

Lest We Forget

Tomorrow, as you watch or participate in the parade, reflect a little deeper at what the trophy meant to those men in that board room, so long ago.

Later as you watch the games, remember that not so long ago, young men like these were not where they should be, playing hockey, but stood knee deep in mud and blood, and fought and died, in a much larger arena.

Edited version published in KW-Recrod May, 16th 2008.

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