November 10, 2013
There is no one way to say thank you and merci on November 11 to Canada and the United States' veterans and those who are active in military service in both neighbouring nations.
That is especially true in major junior hockey, whose season culminates with the competition for the Memorial Cup, a championship which was created in 1919 to honour former Ontario Hockey Association players who had perished during the First World War.
The reigning Memorial Cup champion, the Halifax Mooseheads, wore a jersey that recognized the 50th anniversary of the Sea King helicopter during their Department of National Defence Appreciation Night game last Friday. Other teams' Remembrance Day jerseys highlighted specific aspects of both local military history and its vital presence in everyday life. Here's a look at a few more of the special shirts that appeared across the CHL over the past two weeks:
The OHL's Kitchener Rangers are the pioneers of tribute jerseys, having now done so for nine seasons. On Oct. 25, the Rangers wore a Remembrance Day jersey that honoured "the Royal Canadian Air Force, its service men and women, and its tremendous hockey legacy." During the Second World War, Boston Bruins linemates Bobby Bauer, Woody Dumart and Milt Schmidt, who each hailed from Kitchener, Ont., put their hockey careers on hold by enlisting in the RCAF.
The Rangers have raised more than $200,000 for various causes via their jersey auctions.
Kingston, Ont., prides itself on being a "garrison community," through the presence of Royal Military College, Department of National Defence offices and CFB Kingston (where this author's brother is stationed with the Royal Canadian Navy). Thus the Kingston Frontenacs are wearing a special Canadian Forces uniform that incorporates CADPAT Camouflage, "the pattern used by the Canadian Forces," twice this season.
Kingston wore head-to-toe camo on Nov. 8 vs. Kitchener and will do so again on Feb. 28. Then it plans to auction off the jerseys in support of the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre, which is a reminder of the high stress levels that are a fact of life for military personnel and their loved ones.
While some commemorative uniforms ranged toward garish, the OHL's Peterborough Petes' were note-perfect. Peterborough's poppy jersey included a poppy over the heart, the insignia of the hometown Hastings & Prince Edward Regiment and silhouetted images of soldiers. The Petes are auctioning the jerseys to support the regiment and also sold replica T-shirts.
As the CHL's representative in our nation's capital, the Ottawa 67's have long paid tribute to the armed forces on Nov. 11. On Sunday, the 67's sported jerseys that included a red maple leaf rising from the hemline, much like the sweaters Team Canada wore during the epochal 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
The words "Lest We Forget" appear on the front, while the back includes several images meant to evoke Canada's history, included a silhouetted image of a soldier and the Peace Tower at Parliament Hill.
How you or I show appreciation for the sacrifice is a personal, private decision that just happens to be done publicly. Simple can be as good as elaborate. On Sunday, the OHL's Mississauga Steelheads added a simple poppy appliqué as small but powerful reminder of what November 11 means throughout the world.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.