By Travis Britton
The Northview Golf and Country Club played host to its annual Jake Milford Classic this week, bringing Canucks from the past and present together to celebrate a great man, the game of hockey and the start of one more winter season.
Jake Milford was a player, coach and general manager for a plethora of teams for more than 40 years before joining the Canucks as their general manager in 1977.
It was the long-lasting impression Milford left with all who interacted with him that inspired the Vancouver Canucks to initiate a golf tournament each year that brings players, alumni, coaches, management, longtime supporters, sponsors and donors together not only for a day of golf, but to celebrate our rich history.
It may not have been a sunny day in Surrey, but everybody was thrilled with the fact that the tournament was minus the rain that has put a bit of a damper on tournaments of the past.
Around the Course
With the tournament about to kick off, players, alumni, management, and sponsors took to their respective carts and hit the links for what proved to be an amazing day of golf.
All-in-all, Jake Milford was done proud with another remarkably successful event that garnered a big chunk of cash for the Canucks for Kids Fund through the generosity of all who participated.
One of the newest Canucks came out on top, staving off one of Vancouver’s top forwards from the 1970s. Mark Mancari’s foursome edged out Dennis Ververgaert’s group to capture first place in the 28th edition of the tournament.
Mancari, a big right winger with a booming shot signed in the off-season to fill the void in size by the departed Tanner Glass, was trying to impress the coach before he hit the ice for the main camp. He didn’t disappoint.
In The Clubhouse
The tournament wrapped up with a dinner that included a few speeches, Kirk McLean winning the Jake Milford Award and an auction ran by Rick Ball and Manny Malhotra, that was full of laughs.
As much as captain Kirk was revered by fans for his talent between the pipes, his off-ice work has been equally impressive and has continued beyond his playing career. As an active member of the Canucks Alumni, McLean’s efforts and legacy received recognition by the Vancouver Canucks as he was the 2011 recipient of the Jake Milford Award.
Once the annual silverware and speeches were done it was time for Malhotra and Ball to take over on the podium to raise more money for the Canucks for Kids Fund. They didn’t disappoint in dollars and cents or entertainment value. The biggest ticket item was a two day trip to St. Louis, that includes a couple dinners, tickets to the game and more. But when the bids started to slow down, Malhotra took it upon himself to sweeten the pot by adding a dinner with a few of the players (even Roberto Luongo), a trip to the dressing room after the game, and a Steve Nash autographed jersey. The closing bid had two people claim the trips at $14,000 a pop, totaling $28,000.
Cody Hodgson and Mason Raymond were in attendance, but didn’t participate in the golf. Raymond missed out because of his recovering back and Hodgson was just as a precautionary measure to keep his back at 100 per cent.
A few notables missing in action from the tournament were star forward Ryan Kesler and general manager Mike Gillis, the later making a statement in the tournament program on its importance.
“The ‘Jake’ connects us with our past and our present,” said Gillis. “The connection between our current players and our alumni is a strong bond. The Canucks Alumni continue to reach out to fans and communities all around the province, sharing values and principals such as courage, passion and integrity, which guide our team today. These values also reflect the heart of Jack Milford.”
Gillis did not attend the tournament, as he was overseas attending the funeral of late Vancouver Canuck, Pavol Demitra.