|Senators president Cyril Leeder discusses the Rink of Dreams project that will be a legacy of the Hockey Canada Foundation gala, to be held in Ottawa on June 27-28, 2011 (Ottawa Senators Hockey Club).
If you build it, they will come.
In more ways than one, that phrase made famous by the classic movie Field of Dreams
also sums up the rationale behind Hockey Canada's decision to hold its eighth annual Hockey Canada Foundation gala and golf tournament in Ottawa on June 27-28, 2011.
The gala will be held in the new Ottawa Convention Centre, which is slated to open next spring. And a large portion of the funds raised by the event are being earmarked for a Rink of Dreams legacy fund that, through the Sens Foundation, plans to build a refrigerated outdoor community rink in Ottawa. The City of Ottawa is also a partner in the project.
"This country needs more arenas," Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson said at a news conference held earlier today at Scotiabank Place to unveil details for the gala. "We want to make sure that boys and girls play the game and enjoy the game, not just to be NHL players but to (be able to) enjoy it and everything you get from putting on a pair of skates.
"I think they have a great plan here (in Ottawa) that's going to make a difference for more young boys and girls to play the game of hockey."
Ottawa was also chosen for the event, in great part, because of the relationship the Senators and Hockey Canada have developed over the years — most recently, with the staging of the highly successful 2009 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, which shattered all previous records for ticket and sponsorship sales.
The two-day event will consist of the gala at the convention centre, followed by a day of golf at Eagle Creek and The Marshes. Besides bringing together a who's who of the hockey world, Hockey Canada also uses its gala to honour any champions at IIHF events during the previous season with a ring ceremony.
"This is a big step forward for the city of Ottawa and it’s just one more example of why the Ottawa Senators are such an important part of our city, way beyond the hockey team. What the (Sens) Foundation does, the charities it supports, and this Rink of Dreams is tremendously important to the city." - Jim Durrell
But it is the Rink of Dreams project that will have the most lasting impact in Ottawa.
"This is a big step forward for the city of Ottawa and it’s just one more example of why the Ottawa Senators are such an important part of our city, way beyond the hockey team," said local event chairman Jim Durrell. "What the (Sens) Foundation does, the charities it supports, and this Rink of Dreams is tremendously important to the city."
Senators Sports and Entertainment president Cyril Leeder is hopeful the Hockey Canada Foundation event can provide $350,000 toward the project, with the Sens Foundation raising the remainder of the $1 million necessary to build the outdoor rink that will be open from October to March. And, Leeder added, the plan is for this facility to be the first of many.
"The Senators and Sens Foundation will begin the process of raising additional money (for the project) right now," said Leeder. "When we get that one done, we’ll look at doing another one. We really hope to be able to do these on a fairly regular basis."
While the location for the initial rink has yet to be determined, Leeder said "the plan is, if we do five of them, three or four will be in neighbourhoods that need it the most."
"This is a great opportunity for the Senators and the Sens Foundation, our local businesses and the community to do something really special for our city," he added.
For more information about the Hockey Canada Foundation gala, visit www.hockeycanada.ca