Most junior hockey team owners have never placed their hands on the Memorial Cup, the century old holy grail that is symbolic of junior hockey supremacy in North America. Paul Emard's DNA can be found on three of them: 1972, 1980 and 1981.
Emard was the quiet, unassuming radio station owner who got involved with the Cornwall Royals in 1968 as a part owner and who eventually became the sole owner before turning over control to a local group in 1986.
In 20-plus years of covering the Royals, I never heard a bad word said about Paul Emard. He was an honourable man who treated everyone around him the way he wanted to be treated: with respect. A businessman with considerable financial means, he never played the flashy role. He was a class act, one of the finest hockey people I knew.
The decision to relinquish control of the team was not an easy one for Emard but juggling his radio business and other interests along with the hockey team, which in its own way had evolved into a big business, was too much for one person.
What many folks don't realize is that Emard sold the club for a pittance of what he could have received from outside interests, and there was no shortage of them. He searched for local investors because he wanted the hockey team to stay in Cornwall. In the end, it didn't work out that way, which is another story, but it wasn't because Emard didn't do everything he could to keep the team in Cornwall, at a personal financial loss.
In fact, a case can be made that without Emard at the helm and handling the purse strings, the team would have left the city years sooner.
When the club moved to the Ontario Hockey League from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1981, the cost of operating the team skyrocketed while gate revenues took a dive. Contrary to what many fans thought, the team barely broke even in the QMJHL. In the OHL, it became a money loser that survived only because Emard was willing to bail it out.
Over the years, the city took the team and Emard for granted.
There were issues with box office hours at the civic complex. And then there was the idiotic statement by a complex manager that the building could make more money renting ice that it was "giving away" to the hockey club. The parks and recreation committee publicly criticized the team, singling out Emard, for raising ticket prices 50 cents for playoff games. Any other owner would have said, "I'm outta here."
Emard became one of the most respected junior hockey owners in the country, so much respected by his peers that he became the first "outsider" to be inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame. His OHL colleagues held him in equally high regard.
In 2000 he was inducted into the Cornwall Sports Hall of Fame.
Emard passed away Dec. 24 at age 78.
He is an important part of this community's hockey history. The city should find some way to honour his immense contribution.
TRIVIA ANSWER The December 1971 Cornwall mayoral race saw Ed Lumley upset incumbent Nick Kaneb in a three-man battle. The third person in the race was Roy Brunet who had served as a city alderman, as they were called in that era. He finished a distant third.
TRIVIA Cornwall resident Rory McLennan was the hammer throw world champion in the 1860s but he walked away from competition while still in his prime. What tragic event caused him to quit the hammer throw? Bonus point if you can name the city park that was the scene of his last toss of the hammer.
IN THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR Tobogganing on the dyke and before that the toboggan slide at the Athletic Grounds. ... The hot water pipes that ran under the seats at the Water Street Arena (before the overhead heaters were installed) but never seemed to supply any heat. ... Heat wasn't a problem in the room everyone jammed into between periods. It was a steam bath. ... The rink rats who scraped and flooded the ice in the days before the Zamboni. ... Carl Fisher doing play-by-play of senior hockey games on CKSF radio. ... The somewhat risky game of bumper riding, when young daredevils would grab the back bumper of a car or city bus and slide along behind on the snow-covered street. ... Using the blade of a hockey stick to fish a puck out of the pile of snow around the side of the outdoor park rink that had boards about six inches high.
THIS & THAT My favourite memory of recently retired Father George Maloney is as a young parish priest joining a group of us for a game of shinny on the St. Francis de Sales school rink. It was a big deal for a group of kids. ... The late Ronnie Johnson's nickname was Jiggy. He was called that for as long as anybody can remember, yet nobody knows how he got the nickname. ... Dave Murphy and Scott Rogers logging plenty of miles travelling to and from Kingston. They are the cable broadcast team for Frontenac home games.
AROUND & ABOUT How unusual will August 2014 be? It will have five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays. The last time that occurred was 823 years ago.
HERE & THERE One of the stories I loved hearing the late Jim O'Brien, the brilliant St. Lawrence College professor, tell was about his Peterborough high school basketball team. Because of a small enrolment, the school struggled to put a competitive team on the court. Before one game, the principal, a priest, entered the dressing room to remind the coach, Joe Sanborn, to say the pregame prayer. After the priest left, the coach kept the prayer short - "Jesus, help us!" ... Yes Virginia, Bob Kilger has made it clear that he will seek re-election in October.
SPORTS STUFF A source says Cornwall Motor Speedway is being sold. Ron Morin has owned the speedway since 1981. Buyer is said to be a Casselman area businessman. Morin, who turned the speedway into one of the finest on the DIRT circuit, is expected to stay on in some kind of management capacity.
AND FINALLY The blogger has suggested, among other things, that this correspondent was let go by his long-time employer, the Standard-Freeholder. Nothing could be further from the truth: pure b.s. When my 18-month post-retirement contract was up I notified publisher Peter Padbury that I was moving in a new direction. He thanked me for my tenure and said I would be missed by the paper. I remain on good terms with Peter and other staffers. In short, I couldn't have been treated better by the S-F and Sun Media.