Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Bob Nevin: A Return Visit to Maple Leaf Gardens

On February 17, the Ontario Heritage Trust launched Heritage Week 2015. The event took place at the Ryerson Athletic Centre, which is located in the former Maple Leaf Gardens.

According to a media release, "Heritage Week - which runs from February 16 to 22 - is an annual celebration of Ontario's rich history and provides an opportunity to recognize the important work of heritage organizations and volunteers across the province. This year's theme - Play. Endure. Inspire. Ontario's sports heritage - explores the traditions, innovations and heroes of sport in Ontario."

On hand to take part in a question and answer session was two-time Stanley Cup champion Bob Nevin. Bob played his junior hockey at Maple Leaf Gardens with the Toronto Marlboros and won a Memorial Cup in 1955-56. He captured hockey's ultimate prize with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1962 and 1963.

During the Q&A, most of the inquiries came from students, who got time off school to join in the fun. In addition to Bob, several other athletes, including Olympian Perdita Felicien, were peppered with great questions from the youngsters. And it seems no matter the generation, hockey remains to be a hot topic. It was amazing to listen to the wide range of questions that were directed to Bob, who last skated in the National Hockey League in 1976 with the Los Angeles Kings. Of all the athletes, Bob appeared to be the favourite with those picking up the microphone to ask a question or make a comment. The most repeated phrase was, "this question is for Bob."

One girl told Bob she didn't have a question, but asked if it was okay if she could get a close look at his Stanley Cup ring. Another asked Bob to comment on the state of the current Maple Leafs. He responded by telling the crowd it may well be the right time for a rebuild. Also, Bob pointed out that he played several sports when he was a boy and encouraged his young audience to do the same. "You never know," Bob stated, "you may not like a sport, but until you've tried it, you won't know if you are good at it."

Bob made such a good impression that one student suggested that he join the 2014-15 edition of the Maple Leafs to help them get back on track! All Bob could do with that was smile as those piled into the basketball facility clearly understood that Bob and his fellow teammates from the 1960s knew what it took to be a Stanley Cup winner.

After the closing comments, Bob was swarmed by those requesting a picture or an autograph and he took part in several media interviews.

Bob Nevin wearing the Blue & White.

The Heritage Week launch was hosted by Anne-Marie Mediwake and Dwight Drummond from CBC  News.
Bob listens as wheelchair basketball player, Tyler Miller, answers a question.  Left to Right: Mandy Bujold  (boxer), Tyler Miller, Bob Nevin, Perdita Felicien, and CBC anchor Anne-Marie Mediwake.
A crowd favourite, Bob Nevin signs an autograph.
After taking questions from the students, Bob did the same for the CBC.
Last month, Bob attended an event hosted by Mike Wilson and Kevin Shea, honouring former Boston Bruin Derek Sanderson.

A trade on February 22, 1964, sent Bob Nevin to the New York Rangers, but 51 years later, it was great seeing him back at the grand old building situated at Carlton and Church.

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