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25th edition of "The Jake" a success

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks have long been known as a proud organization that has always been the home of honest, loyal and hard-working players.

That still rings true to the present-day Canucks, but apparently it doesn't apply to them when they trade in their sticks for golf clubs and hit the links.

As both past and present players gathered yesterday at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey to take part in the 25th annual Jake Milford Canucks Charity Invitational Golf Tournament, there was speculation that maybe a few teams were being quite generous with their scorekeeping.

"It's amazing, with all the rain and everything going on, most of you still found a way to cheat, I can't believe it," joked Roberto Luongo as he addressed the crowd during the banquet that followed.

The 25th edition of The Jake was once again a rousing success as Canucks alumni, players, coaches, management, longtime supporters, sponsors and donors came together to celebrate their dear friend Jake Milford, while raising money for various charities.

John Milford, Jake's son, has been involved with the tournament since its inception and he's elated with how it's blossomed over the past 25 years.

"It makes me very proud and grateful that my dad's name can be associated with a great tournament like this that not only benefits charities, but is also a great thing for the present Canucks and the Canucks alumni," said Milford. "There is a great comradeship there and it means a whole lot to me and our whole family."

Having a strong presence in the community has always been a mandate for the Canucks, and events such as The Jake demonstrate the organization's ability to come together and help those in need. The benefactors of this event include the Canadian Cancer Society's Camp Goodtimes, among others, and the players recognize how important it is to take part in these events.

"We can do big things by not doing much," said Henrik Sedin. "I've played in this for eight years now and it's always a fun event and it shows you how much the Canucks care about the people in BC with a good cause like this. It's unbelievable."

Taking part in a great round of golf while raising money for charity was the main agenda on the day, but during the banquet there was also some business to be taken care of as a new recipient of the Jake Milford plaque was named.

Awarded to a "person whose contributions to hockey in British Columbia have been significant, of lasting impact and generally, above and beyond the call of duty," the 2008 Jake Milford plaque was bestowed upon Canucks legend Norm Jewison.

A standing ovation escorted Jewison to the microphone to accept the award, the rumbling of applause almost caught him as much off guard as winning the award itself.

"It's great to have a standing ovation for a guy in hockey who never scored a goal," laughed Jewison, who worked for the Canucks for 30 years before retiring last season.

"This is an amazing honor for me to receive this award and to be mentioned in the same breath as Hockey Hall of Famers Jim Robson, Frank Griffiths and other great hockey figures."

Prizes were awarded for the top 10 golfing foursomes, groups led by Ryan Johnson, Geoff Courtnall, Richard Brodeur, Sami Salo and Gino Odjick all put up impressive scores, but apparently Willie Mitchell was part of the group smart enough to bring erasers for their scorekeeping pencils as they won the tournament with a score of -45.

Mitchell isn't much of a golfer, he admitted, and he got off to a bit of a rough start yesterday, so he was glad his team was able to turn it around.

"I started off atrocious," laughed Mitchell. "With the cameras on, I actually hit the ball behind me, if that's actually possible. I had a pro in our group and he said that he had never seen that before. But after that I settled in and probably played some of the best golf I've ever played, I just got in a groove out there."

Mitchell certainly isn't proud of the footage captured, the star defenceman even jokingly tried to swipe the camera during the banquet.

But if his awkward backwards shot does somehow find its way into the dressing room, Mitchell won't be overly disappointed because it happened during an event that he's thrilled to take part in.

"I enjoy it because it's a chance for me to chum around with a few of the older players that I watched, who left a legacy for us to play in now. Dennis Kearns is right there, there's Dave Babych...these are all guys that I watched and I'm kind of one of them now so that's fun, it's a lot of fun.

"The fact that the alumni has such a strong following here, everyone seems to come together to do things like this for a good cause, so it's twice as rewarding. Anytime you can be out on a golf course and be with good people and have a good time to raise money, it's something special."

Even new Canuck Cody Hodgson said there was a unique feeling to the event, it was apparent to him that everyone enjoyed coming together for the greater good.

"The Canucks have a great reputation in the community and it's a great organization that is really classy in anything they do and it shows in events like this.

"It feels really good to be part of this, the guys really made me feel like part of the team right away," added Hodgson.

The Vancouver Canucks would like to thank all those who attended the 25th Jake, including all the sponsors, donors and supporters. A big thank you to the BC Hockey Benevolent Association, Gerry Sillers, the President of the Canucks Alumni and former Canucks radio and television broadcaster Jim Robson.

To be added to the Jake Milford Canucks Charity Invitational waitlist for September 2009 please complete the following waitlist form.

Founders of "The Jake"
Community Initiatives

2006-07 Milford Tourny

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