Bill Stewart #TBT

After a fine performance in the Memorial Cup Championships this past Sunday, this weeks Throw Back Thursday is dedicated to the scariest person, best fisherman and most successful coach I know, the assistant coach of the 2014 Memorial Cup finalist Guelph Storm, Bill Stewart.

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Bill Stewart, or “Stewie” as I affectionately call him is the scariest human being I’ve ever met.  I mean look at the image above and imagine skating down the wing towards that intimidating creature.  That’s him smiling.  He’s incredibly happy to have his picture taken, especially in the uniform of his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.  Stewie made his first strides in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres in 1977 after being drafted 68th overall after a well traveled junior career.  Known for his rough and tumble style, Bill had soft hands and heavy mitts and went on to have a relatively successful professional career bouncing between the AHL and NHL for 9 years before truly finding his calling in Italy.  After 7 seasons in Italy he was able to get Italian citizenship and played for the Italian National Team in the 1992 and 1993 World Championships as well as the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Games.

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After a lengthy playing career, Stewie pursued his next calling where he stood behind the bench and scared the hell out of his players until they played exactly how he wanted them to.  His coaching career took a more linear progression than his playing career,. and he seemed to rocket from Ontario Jr B, to winning an OHL championship with the Oshawa Generals, to coaching in the AHL and finally a stint with the New York Islanders all within the first 4 years of retirement.  Though the NHL job didn’t last for long, he quickly rebounded the following year taking the Barrie Colts to the Memorial Cup finals where they ultimately lost.  After a questionable incident involving Vladimir Chernenko hiding in the equipment bags under the bus travelling over the US border, Stewie took his brilliant coaching style over to the German Elite League where he immediately won a Championship in Mannheim, where he may or may not have faked a heart attack during the finals to buy an extra timeout.

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Terrifying I know!!!  Finally, after 8 years in Germany and some heart to heart talks with CHL Commissioner David Branch, Stewie is back at the helm with the Guelph Storm along with fellow CHE hockey camp instructor Mike Kelly.  Together for the past 3 years, they built the Storm into a veritable force to be reckoned with and the team to beat heading into this years Memorial Cup tournament.  Ultimately they lost by 1 goal in a crushing defeat to the Edmonton Oil Kings this past Sunday, in his 3rd appearance in the Memorial Cup finals in 5 years as a coach.  That’s right.  60% of the time he’s spent in the OHL has ended in the Memorial Cup finals.

From everyone here at Canadian Hockey Enterprises, we want to send a hearty congratulations to Bill Stewart, Mike Kelly and everyone else in the Guelph Storm organization and we look forward to seeing both of you at the Peterborough camps this summer.

Once again, don’t forget to vote for the latest and greatest CHE tournament location.  Nashville once again made it through however (and not surprisingly) Honolulu took over the spot formerly held by Halifax.  Halifax is great but….come on….Hawaii!!!

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

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Batus Flames – Best Dressed of 2014!

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There’s an army base, a British army base located just outside of Medicine Hat, Alberta.  At this base, large groups of advanced British military officers spend 1 – 3 years time practicing various acts of valor in the rolling hills of South-Eastern Albert.  They practice tank maneuvers, work on infantry tactics and will spend weeks at a time surviving in the wilderness, but the most nerve racking experience of their entire deployment takes place at the CFB Suffield Arena, where men and women learn to play hockey.

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They not only love the game they pick up while visiting the great white north, but for the past 15 year we’ve been fortunate enough to have the BATUS teams attend various CHE tournaments.  This year, Andy Keohane was kind enough to bring the BATUS Flames to Kelowna, BC, and as they are every year, they were by far the best dressed teams there.  With matching socks, pants, gloves and helmets to go along with their flashy, European style jerseys with nick names embroidered on the back, they looked like a force to be reckoned with for sure.  But it was the uniforms they wore to the Friday night banquet that won them the honor of Best Dressed team of 2014.  Congrats to the BATUS Flames.

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As per last weeks post, we have left the top 2 locations from last weeks post and added a couple of new potential locations.  Don’t forget to vote for the next CHE location again this week.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterprises

Adult Tournament Season Recap

Hello friends!

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I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything, but for those of you who know me and our business you’d know we just worked our way through an extremely intense month of Adult Hockey Tournaments.  Each spring, typically starting on the last weekend of March and wrapping up on the first weekend of May, Canadian Hockey Enterprises runs 23 adult recreational hockey tournaments in Banff, Ottawa, London, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Atlantic City, Kelowna, Montreal, Quebec City and Lake Placid.  Needless to say we rack up a lot of air miles in April!  It’s an incredibly busy and stressful time for everyone in our office, but it’s also extremely rewarding as the bulk of our work from September to March comes to fruition during the tournament season.  Whether teams have been coming for 20 years or it’s their first time, we have great opportunities to connect face to face with our customers and seeing the smiles on their faces during the games makes all of the effort worth while.  So I asked some of the staff to share some of the more memorable stories they had from this past month and I’ll be posting the stories throughout the next couple of weeks.

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Mike McCabe thought he was a lucky man when he found out he was heading to Chicago April 2 – 6 to run our Chicago tournament once again. There were 16 teams heading to the windy city  from Phoenix to Finland and everywhere in between, and for those lucky enough to get an extra day off work, some teams were able to catch the Blackhawks vs. Minnesota Wild game on the Thursday night.  But what Mike didn’t know was that his luck would pale in comparison to Dan Walper of the Great Canadian Oilers from Delisle, SK.  The Oilers were enjoying a sneak peak of this years Central Division Championships, having a couple of cool refreshing beverages along with a full United Center crowd.  It was anything but  typical Thursday night for the boys from rural Saskatchewan but it got even stranger with the announcement of the night’s 50/50 draw, as Dan looked at his ticket with a shocked expression having realized he’d won!!!  His team didn’t get to take home a trophy, but at least Dan had $14 000 to bring with him, and I’m sure every cup winner would trade him in a heartbeat.

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Stories like these are what make this job exciting and what inspire us to come up with new and exciting tournament ideas for our teams to take advantage of.  Over the year’s we’ve slowly introduced new locations such as Chicago and Phoenix that have proven to be extremely popular, while some other destinations like Denver and St. John’s have fizzled out.  We want to know where YOU want to go and will be running an ongoing survey as we share some of our stories.  The top 2 locations from this posts survey will continue on for the next 4 or 5 posts until we have solid evidence that teams want to go _______!   So make sure you vote for your preferred location on each post so we can set up the tournament of your choice.

Graydon Crowley

Canadian Hockey Enterrpises