As if the grind of training camp wasn’t enough already, the Vancouver Canucks put in extra time on Wednesday.
It was a two-a-day with a twist, the team skated in the morning before spending the afternoon taking part in the 26th annual Jake Milford Canucks Charity Invitational Golf Tournament, presented by Goldcorp, at Northview Golf & Country Club in Surrey.
Strenuous activity was put on the backburner as the players relaxed while indulging in a game most of them love to hate and when the dust settled, not only was a new winning foursome crowned, but some much needed funds were raised for the Canucks for Kids Fund. Since it’s first year, the Jake has generated nearly $930,000 in community grants.
More than just an event to break up the monotony of camp, this longstanding tournament is a day of golf and chumming for charity – a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“This tournament and the different events for the Canucks for Kids Fund that we do throughout the year, it’s incredible the involvement not only by the organization, but the community support and the corporate community as well,” said second-year Canucks forward Ryan Johnson.
“The guys were thanking me for coming out but it’s the other way around, they’re the ones who make it what it is. For us to come out and enjoy a day of golf and be around some great people for an incredible cause, you can’t beat it.”
This year’s Jake brought together 23 current Canucks with more than 25 members of the Canucks Alumni, including Dennis Ververgaert, one of Vancouver’s top forwards from the 1970s.
Ververgaert, who was drafted third overall in 1973 by the Canucks, has made taking part in this event a priority and he hasn’t missed too many tee times over the years. He admitted his golf game needs work, lots and lots of work, but he isn’t in it to earn a spot on the Senior PGA tour.
“I think bringing the alumni and current Canucks together like this is one of the best things that have come of this tournament,” he said. “It’s creating a better and stronger organization and I think it’s only going to get better from here on in.
“As hockey players we really do have a special bond and this helps nourish it. We’re creating a bond and making this a better organization by creating that bond. It’s just awesome so I hope it continues for many, many years.”
Canucks tough guy Darcy Hordichuk also wouldn’t mind this tournament lasting a long while because it seems to be the only time he can hit the links and not embarrass himself.
Hordichuk, who considers himself an amazing golfer, was part of the winning foursome that also included Scott Allen, Dale Shury and Dennis Stobbe from Shearwater Investments.
By all accounts, Allen, Shury and Stobbe carried the team and Hordichuk was just there for show.
He claims he shot a 34-under, which we all know is about as likely as The Great Hordini ever netting a hat-trick.
“I had Hordichuk behind me and he was double-bogeying and taking birdies, which we expect from him,” laughed Johnson.
“I saw him take a swing and he almost fell over,” added Ryan Kesler.
While the jury is still out on Hordi’s golf skills, the verdict on Brian LeMercier of Bridgestone Firestone Canada Inc. is in.
LeMercier walked away with hands down the shot of the day, a 187-yard hole-in-one on the par-3 16th. One swing of the stick and Lamercier was awarded $10,000, half of which he donated to the Canucks for Kids Fund.
All-in-all Jake Milford would have been proud of another wildly successful event and his son John attested to that.
Participating in the event for the 26th time, John was once again floored at the generosity of everyone involved. He never envisioned this tournament growing in size and scope the way it has.
“It means an awful lot to see everyone come together like this,” he said. “It’s a mixture of alumni and the present day Canucks and then all the people who have supported hockey throughout the years and have supported this tournament through the years and are great fans of hockey and great fans of the Canucks and I couldn’t ask for anything more.”
John was especially pleased this year as his sons Riley, 11, and Jake, 13, were finally able to tag along.
Although they didn’t golf, Riley and Jake followed John around in a cart spreading the Milford joy that this momentous tournament was built on.
Not to be forgotten is the 2009 Jake Milford Award, given to "person whose contributions to hockey in British Columbia have been significant, of lasting impact and generally, above and beyond the call of duty," which was also handed out during the proceedings.
The award was bestowed upon Mickey McDowell, a man whose impact on the Canucks organization is second to none.