It's been whirlwind couple of days in Valley town. But my job was made easier by all the wonderful people who call Dundas home. Their love of hockey and their community was worn on their sleeve. And when I say they made my job easier, they literally did. I truly appreciated the number of Dundasians who would come up to me and want to tell their story, who had read my blog entries and stories and wanted to know more or who just wanted to chat about their favorite hockey team. Over the days, I began to recognize many of the residents who came out over and over again.
My biggest fan was perhaps Lynn Ward, who volunteered at the rink. Every day, she would ask enthusiastically when my next story was going up or what I was working on. She told me yesterday that she'd be disappointed that I'd be longer writing about Dundas. I don't actually know when she had time to really read anything, as she was at the rink as much as I was.
Ray Ritchie, the senior operator of the J.L. Grightmire Arena, always had a smile on his face and something nice to say no matter how tired he was from the long hours that rink needed in order to be NHL-ready.
His buddy Joe Kennedy was beyond excited with all the new skills he was learning from the NHL's Don Moffatt. He wants to go work for Moffatt, but Joe, I don't think Dundas would ever let you go.
Uncle Wayne Peters, a volunteer, was in charge of opening doors and saying hello to me every day. I don't think he minded opening doors; he was in his element as the official J.L. Grightmire Arena greeter.
Peters happens to work for Barry Forth at the Copetown Woods Golf Club. I don't think the golf course has gotten very much attention over the course of Kraft Hockeyville as Barry has put so much of his time and life into the event. His third child was born during the campaign -- she will be the official Kraft Hockeyville baby.
Jennifer Wilson's letter about her dad was truly inspirational and I'm glad that the George Graham Officials’ Clinic with the NHL boys gave her a bit of solace.
To the families, the McDonalds, the Rories, the Hagens, the Kiersteads, and the Baldwins, who represent all that is good in Dundas.
There were so many good Dundasian hockey stories that I wish I could have had more time.
I would have really liked to have had my skates sharpened by Jim Lewis and chatted with him about his 50 years in the bowels of the rink.
Perhaps I may just come back to Dundas this winter, see the kids play their Minor Hockey games and go for an outdoor skate with councilman Russ Powers. Russ, your town is extremely lucky to have you on their side. Of all the people I met, you showed the greatest love and emotion for your community.
So goodbye Dundas, thank you for sharing your lives with me and making me feel like one of your own.
And Lynn, maybe I'll do one more blog entry in the coming weeks, just to keep you on your toes.
Kraft Hockeyville video 09.29.2010 / 6:07 PM ET
In the last few days you may have seen me around town with a couple of cameramen from the NHL. Tom Yowe and Bobby Tommey worked endlessly capturing the stories of Dundas on video for NHL.com. Below is one of the pieces they shot yesterday of the Sabres and the Senators visiting your local schools.
If you want to see more Kraft Hockeyville 2010 video from Bobby and Tom, please click here.
Must end sometime 09.29.2010 / 12:06AM ET
Kraft Hockeyville 2010 came to a close tonight with a great and memorable hockey game. Both teams seem to bring a little extra to Dundas tonight, especially one Jason Pominville.
Pominville stole the show in Kraft Hockeyville, just as he became the fan favorite in Roberval two years ago.
There's so much I could say about this great experience in Dundas, but I'm going to leave you with just this tonight and write a little more in the coming days.
Goodnight J.L Grightmire Arena!
Ron and Don in Dundas 09.28.2010 / 8:03 PM ET
Ron MacLean and Don Cherry were just on the ice to shoot a Coach's Corner segment. MacLean told a story on how he once refereed a Dundas Junior C playoff game. He called a penalty on the Blues that ended up costing them the game. MacLean noted that Joe Kennedy, J.L. Grightmire's very own Zamboni driver, is still out to get him all these years later for that call.
Rocking in Dundas! 09.28.2010 / 6:29 PM ET
It's almost game time folks and if you don't have a ticket you should head over to the stage on Market Street in Dundas, where they are drawing 70 new game tickets. Tom Yowe from NHL Studios and I went over to check out the scene at the pep rally.
There we met Denise, who won the first ticket of the evening. We came by two police horses, who discovered they like chewing on NHL.com staff writers. - Tom captured it all on video. - Heading back to the rink, we ran into Councilman Russ Powers all decked out in his Dundas hockey jersey and jumping for joy. And finally along the side of the rink we met a neighbor of the J.L. Grightmire Arena who has decorated his garage with a Senators mural and Kraft Hockeyville flags.
It's still raining outside, but these Dundasians are not afraid a little water! Puck drops at 7 p.m.
They have arrived 09.28.2010 / 10:50 AM ET
The rain didn't deter any fans from greeting their favorite players outside the J.L Grightmire arena this morning, some had even been there since 7a.m..
By the time the Sabres bus had arrived in the parking lot there was a complete downpour. Cheers went up for Thomas Vanek and Ryan Miller, but the biggest ovations were reserved for Tyler Myers and Steve Montador, who stayed out in the rain until they had signed every last autograph.
Buffalo is now out on the ice, while the Senators are in their dressing room suiting up.
School children who had won passes to attend the morning skate, as well as members of the Dundas Minor Hockey Association, are on the edge of their seats watching Coach Lindy Ruff run drills with his team.
George Graham Memorial Officials Clinic 09.27.2010 / 9:02 PM ET
(Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
George Graham's legacy lived on Monday evening as 30 black and whites gathered on the ice with the best of the NHL. Referees Bill McCreary and Paul Devorski and linesmen Greg Devorski and Mark Shewchyk put the boys through the paces at the J.L. Grightmire Arena, while Graham's daughter, Jennifer Wilson, watched with a big smile on her face.
"It was amazing, absolutely amazing," said Wilson. "It was hard not to wear my heart on my sleeve. I feel like my father's memory has been truly honored. It was a chance of a lifetime to meet these guys."
Some of the young officials on the ice had never met Graham, while others knew him a great deal.
"I thought it was real special when they named it after him," said Joe Heslop, who after the clinic learned that he had a few more muscles in his body than he ever thought he had. "George was the one who got me refereeing at 15 years old."
For the NHL officials it brought back some fond memories. Paul Devorski actually played at the rink, while McCreary called a few games in the old barn 32 years ago. All four of the officials were more than pleased to be helping out this group.
"It's all how we got started in amateur hockey," explained McCreary. "It's really nice to be on the ice with enthusiastic amateurs like that, to see them listening, to see them work hard, it's nice to be able to give back to the game."
A Dundasian Sunday 09.26.2010 / 11:47 PM ET
Had a great, but busy day in Dundas today and thought I'd share some of the photos I took throughout the day. Enjoy!
Tom from NHL studios chats with Dave.
Performing in Dundas 09.26.2010 / 11:13 PM ET
Those attending the Kraft Hockeyville game on Tuesday are in for quite a performance, but probably not the performance they had in mind.
The performance I'm thinking of is the beautiful voice of Maggie Szabo, who will be singing the national anthems.
Szabo came by the rink tonight for a sound check and blew everyone away. Wow, can she sing.
Born and raised in Dundas, she was just recently signed by Linus Entertainment/True North Records, and after a brief stint in Nashville is now home and busy writing.
While she has sung at Hamilton Bulldogs games, this will be her first NHL game and one she feels very strongly about.
"This is really cool, because I've never ever sung at such an important game in Dundas," Szabo told me after her sound check. "It really means a lot to me. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm going to be nervous for sure, but it's going to be a lot of fun."
A bit of Saturday night fun 09.25.2010 / 11:48 PM ET
For some, Kraft Hockeyville starts Sunday morning, for others it started Saturday evening with the annual NHL staff game. The last chance to unwind before a busy few days and the only chance to try the ice, a friendly game is held between the NHL staff, Kraft and, this year, Dundas' own campaign organizer, Barry Forth.
There weren't too many goals scored, especially as the nets had yet to be installed, but there was much fun had as Don Moffatt, the NHL facilities operations supervisor, made sure we didn't create any ruts.
The ice feels great and today's cold spell has done wonders. While I got my picture taken with the NHL.com and Kraft Hockeyville logos, I watched as Forth skated circles around me and the NHL and Kraft staff laughed and enjoyed the game -- how it should be, in the true spirit of Kraft Hockeyville.
Landed in Hockeyville 09.25.2010 / 6:46 PM ET
Niagara Falls from airplane.
I've arrived safe and sound in Dundas, and already one can see this community is pumped for Kraft Hockeyville.
Having landed at the Toronto airport, the first thing I did was scan the car radio for some good tunes. I’m not that familiar with southern Ontario radio stations, but when I heard the words "Dundas is Hockeyville" I knew I had landed on the perfect air wave, Hamilton's 102.9 FM.
About 25 minutes outside of Dundas I saw my first Kraft Hockeyville car flag. I was excited. Turns out, it was the first of thousands I would see today. There was even a car flag attached to the J.L Grightmire Arena Zamboni.
After a late lunch at the Thirsty Cactus I strolled down the main drag, King St., looking at the Kraft Hockeyville-themed windows. Every street light was wrapped in blue and white ribbon and a Dundas Kraft Hockeyville sign stretch across the street.
The rink is just two blocks south of King St., and boy does it look good with the fresh paint job and Kraft Hockeyville logos along the boards and on the ice.
One of my favorite things about an arena is all the various banners hanging in the rafters. J.L. Grightmire Arena has some great ones, including one for former NHLer Rick Vaive, two Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament banners and, of course, the Dundas Kraft Hockeyville 2010 Champions banner.
Kraft Hockeyville kicks off tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. with the NHL alumni youth hockey clinics. Perhaps these kids will learn a few tricks so that they too can have a banner raised to the roof of the J.L. Grightmire Arena.
Arena prep is underway 09.24.2010 / 11:38 PM ET
Krystle Krasnaj, the NHL's Kraft Hockeyville guru, has been busy in Dundas getting things ready for Sunday. Here are a few shots from the J.L Grightmire Arena that she's taken over the last two days.
Broadcast lights go up. (Krystle Krasnaj)
Kraft Dinner and hockey, a perfect fit 09.24.2010 / 1:36 PM ET
I have to admit, I was tickled pink with the genius of the Gotta be Dundas, KD inspired slogan.
I have always been a huge fan of Kraft Dinner. As I spoke with Barry Forth, Dundas' Kraft Hockeyville bid organizer, and with Julien Franklin at Kraft, I started to develop a huge craving for a steaming bowl of KD.
Me and Mike Elie (Courtesy: Kathy Elie)
Naturally, the more I then wrote about Kraft, the more I wanted some. Here in the USA, Kraft Dinner is named Kraft Marcorni and Cheese. While it's probably the same, I'm going to wait until I'm back in Canada to satisfy my craving. And there's no doubt that I will do so.
I lived on the stuff as a kid and Kraft Hockeyville has triggered some great memories from when I was little. Returning home for lunch from pre-kindergarten, Kraft Dinner was usually the meal of choice. If it wasn't at my house, it was at Mrs Elie's. I clearly remember sitting at Mrs. Elie's kitchen table with her son, Mikey Elie, and devouring a plate of KD on Mrs. Elies' blue and white dinner plates.
The Elie's also had a great backyard rink that I spent many hours skating around on, so I'm sure Kraft Dinner was often the pre-skate meal.
It’s almost as if Kraft Dinner and hockey were always meant to be together. Great job Dundas!
Bulldogs and Dundas 09.23.2010 / 12:18 PM ET
Hamilton Bulldogs (Karen Robillard)
On Dec. 12, 2009, Dundas got a little help from some friends down the road in Hamilton in their quest for the Kraft Hockeyville Crown.
The J.L. Grightmire Arena played host to the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Montreal Canadiens' AHL team. Their practice that day was billed as the first event the Dundas organizing committee had in order to promote Kraft Hockeyville.
The Bulldogs showed up in their very own Bulldogs/Gotta Be Dundas practice jerseys, which they signed and gave to the organizing committee to raffle off.
"It was great to see a professional team practicing out on our ice," said Barry Forth, co-chair of Dundas' Kraft Hockeyville bid. "Now it's just a step above that notch with the Sabres and Senators coming."
Welcome to Details from Dundas 09.22.2010 / 12:00 PM ET
Welcome everyone to the Details from Dundas blog, where I'll try to bring you the inside scoop from Kraft Hockeyville 2010.
While I don't leave for Dundas until Saturday, I've already been busy speaking to some excited people who love their community and their soon-to-be-updated arena.
Last week, I had a chat with Hamilton city councilor Russ Powers. He represents Dundas, which was amalgamated with Hamilton in 2001. Living in Southern Ontario, one would think the councilor would be a Leafs, or perhaps, even a Sabres fan. But no … he is a loyal follower of the Blue-Blanc-Rouge, the Montreal Canadiens.
You see, his father, Gilbert Powers was in the Canadiens' system. He never made it to the NHL, but he played with the Springfield Indians in the AHL under Eddie Shore. Powers' father also captained the Air Force Hockey team and on furlough would play for Shore's Buffalo Bisons, the team having been relocated from Springfield.
Powers never saw his father play until he was well into his 40's, but he could still turn some heads.
"My father got coerced into playing in an industrial hockey league though the company he worked for. This young guy was kind of hassling the old man, so my dad just waited for the right opportunity," recalled Powers. "The guy came down the ice and then my dad threw him a body check and they picked the guy out of the third row of seats. As dad says, 'When you got it, you never forget it.'"
I would have loved to have seen the old man play in his 40's, too!
Kraft Hockeyville starts on Sunday, but keep checking back for the latest Details from Dundas.