The Canucks Alumni is currently made up of 133 former hockey players, coaches and administrators. Over 100 of these members are located in the Metro Vancouver area, where they act as community ambassadors. Through donating their time and their commitment to fundraising initiatives, they achieve their mandate of improving personal relationships among all members of the hockey fraternity, providing financial assistance to members of the hockey community, supporting charitable causes (primarily youth oriented) and promoting the game of ice hockey at all levels.
The group was formed in 1952 when a widow of a popular Canuck was affected by Leukemia and in response, his past teammates decided to host an “Oldtimers” game. All proceeds from the event went towards medical treatment, and since it was such a hit the Alumni decided to continue hosting charitable events. From these humble beginnings, NHL Hall of Famers Fred “Cyclone” Taylor, Clint Smith, Neil Colville and Walter “Babe” Pratt formed the B.C. Hockey Benevolent Association.
In the early days, the organization’s objective was to raise money for previous Canuck players who had fallen on difficult times, however when the Canucks entered the NHL in 1970, the work of the Alumni expanded to benefit the greater community. The Association has evolved considerably, allowing many BC charities to receive significant funding. Key beneficiaries that the Alumni Association support includes Canuck Place, Camp Goodtimes, the Boys and Girls Club and many more.
Through golf tournaments, charity games and scholarship programs the alumni are brightening the lives of many youth. The Jake Milford Tournament, named after the Canucks former General Manager, is an annual event in its 32nd year that goes towards raising funds for Canuck Place. Many Alumni charity hockey games also take place all over British Columbia, raising funds for numerous causes. A popular example would be the annual Superskills event, which the Alumni participated in this past January. Finally, the Alumni are proud to support numerous scholarship programs including the Larry Ashley Scholarship, which has provided over $100,000 in scholarship funding since its inception.
The Alumni continuously make large impacts on the community, however this year was especially momentous for the Association. Gerry Sillers, Vancouver Canucks Alumni President from 1989 to present, was recognized by the NHL Alumni Association and by being awarded with the ‘Keith McCreary 7th Man Award.’ This award recognizes an individual who has contributed great success to the game over vast periods of time and is a true unsung hero of the game. Additionally, during our Black Flying Skate Retro night taking place on February 13th, players from 1995.96 including Trevor Linden, Kirk McLean, Jyrki Lumme, Gino Odjick, and Cliff Ronning were present for a ceremonial puck-drop. The roar from fans paid tribute to the Alumni and showed their gratitude for all the past and present contributions to the organization.
Since the launch of the B.C. Hockey Benevolent Association, currently named the Vancouver Canucks Alumni Association, the members have managed to provide over $2M in funding for their various scholarships. In addition, it has helped raise several more million dollars for many other charities such as the Canucks for Kids Fund, Canucks Autism Network and the Boys and Girls Club. Although members of the Alumni no longer light lamps across the NHL, their contributions are no less significant as they continuously strive to Play for the community.