As the Port Colborne High School hockey team continues to rack up wins this season, the boys have scored some encouragement from none other than Brendan Shanahan.
"Your school has strong ties to the Toronto Maple Leafs as one of your alumni, Teeder Kennedy, is also one of our most esteemed alumni," wrote Shanahan in a letter sent to the team at the start of the hockey season.
Shanahan, a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and president of the Leafs, encouraged the boys to have a good season, both on and off the ice.
"Enjoy the game. Enjoy your team. Enjoy your season. Be leaders on the ice but more importantly, be kind leaders in the hallways."
The team's teacher, Shawn Coers, happened to bump into a member of the Leafs staff late last year, and the conversation inevitably turned to Kennedy, the legendary hockey player from Port Colborne who was born in 1925 and spent 14 seasons playing for the Leafs, winning Stanley Cups in 1945, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951, a year he also won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player. Kennedy retired from the NHL in 1955, but came back for 30 more games in 1956-57. He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.
Kennedy died on Aug. 14, 2009, at age 83.
"We have a lot of big Leafs fans on the team," said Coers. "They thought it was pretty neat."
He particularly liked the idea of encouraging the boys to be exemplary role models for their peers, not just while playing hockey, but off the ice as well.
"I thought it was an excellent message and classy gesture," said Coers.
The team was off to a cracking start this season, and headed into last Thursday's game undefeated. But they couldn't keep the streak going, losing the game 3-1 to Jean Vanier.
by James Culic, Port Colborne Leader