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Chamber honours Cyril Leeder

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators and Scotiabank Place COO Cyril Leeder kneels beside the plaque in the World Exhange Plaza of Honour which was presented to him Wednesday by the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce as its 2008 Gold Business Person of the Year.
Wayne Gretzky had it right all along.

Just ask Senators Sports & Entertainment COO Cyril Leeder, who used a quote by the Great One to illustrate his feelings about receiving the 2008 Business Person of the Year award from the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday afternoon.

The distinction will be permanently recognized by a plaque that now sits in the Place of Honour at the World Exchange Plaza ampitheatre, where all winners of the award since 1974 also have a place.

"When Wayne won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most valuable player in the league as voted by the players, he said – and I would agree wholeheartedly – that there is no greater honour than recognition from your peers," Leeder told a Chamber luncheon held at the Sheraton Ottawa Hotel. "It really is humbling for me to be here today, especially seeing in the plaza the (names of ) past recipients of the award… they’re all great business people that have made our city a better place to live.

"Scanning through them, I think I recognized every one of them, and just about every one had a role (in being) involved with the Senators and bringing the team back to Ottawa. I’m very fortunate in the role that I’m in and I really think it is a city asset. It’s something we hold in a public trust and I’m very proud to work for the Senators and to receive this honour."

Leeder has been with the Senators organization since its return to the National Hockey League in 1992 and was promoted to his current role 10 years later. The Brockville native was a key figure in putting together the winning bid that brought the Senators back to Ottawa after a nearly 60-year absence, writing the key document that was presented to the NHL's board of governors.

Since its humble beginnings with a full-time staff of 14, Senators Sports & Entertainment has grown into an organization that employs more than 200 full-time and 1,400 part-time workers.

"This is an individual award but I couldn’t have done it without the team there and I would like to graciously accept this award on behalf of everybody at Senators Sports & Entertainment," said Leeder, who also paid tribute to the franchise's three owners.

"I want to pay a very special thank you to the owners of the Ottawa Senators – Bruce Firestone, Rod Bryden and Eugene Melnyk. Each has provided me with a different opportunity, different experiences and different challenges but I know I’m a better person and a better businessman because of each of them."

"I'm very fortunate in the role that I'm in and I really think it is a city asset. It's something we hold in a public trust and I'm very proud to work for the Senators and to receive this honour." - Cyril Leeder
Leeder's contributions to the community go well beyond the NHL team. He was a driving force and one of the founders of the Bell Capital Cup, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest hockey tournament. Leeder also sits on the board of directors for the Sens Foundation and is involved with various committees throughout the capital.

"Cyril's commitment to the community, to minor hockey coaching and conducting coaching clinics, the countless hours he spends in the rinks with his own children, his commitment to his employees and the pride he takes in knowing he has a strong team off the ice, his hours spent sitting on various committees throughout the region – including the Ottawa Convention Centre and National Arts Centre – all mark him as a man who touches individuals in this city in many different ways," said Dan Moorcroft, chair of the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.

"(He is) a man who enhances the lives of all of those in the community."

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