Architect of Cornwall’s Memorial Cup titles passes away

Architect of Cornwall’s Memorial Cup titles passes away

CORNWALL, Ontario – One of the founding fathers of the three-time Memorial Cup champion Cornwall Royals is dead at age 78.

Normand (Norm) Baril died Thursday at Cornwall Community Hospital.  

A chance meeting in 1963 between Baril, then operating a hardware store on Montreal Road, and Larry “Red” Lascelle, who owned the financially challenged Ottawa-Hull Junior Hockey League team, sowed the seeds for the team’s long and convoluted journey to a national championship in 1972.  

Baril bought a piece of the cash-starved club and took over the general manager reins from Lascelle who was using his Courtaulds paycheque to keep the team’s head (barely) above water.  

In 1964 the team joined the Central Junior Hockey League and after winning three straight championships, Baril made a bold and controversial move.

He moved the Royals to the Montreal Metro Junior Hockey League.   In the summer of 1969 the Royals became part of a major junior hockey revolution in Canada.

Three “super” leagues were created by the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) which ended the long-standing practice of NHL teams owning junior clubs and their players. The Royals became part of the new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.   Baril and Lascelle gave up control of the team to a group of local businessmen.

Baril remained as general manager.   At a news conference to unveil the new-look team, Baril said his goal was to bring a Memorial Cup to Cornwall within three years. A lot of people laughed. But Baril got the last laugh when the team won its first of three Memorial Cups in 1972.   In the 1970-71 season Baril relinqushed the GM role to coach Jim Larin but remained as a director. The next season Larin hired Orval Tessier to coach.  

Baril eventually parted company with the Royals to become general manager of the Hull Festivals.   But the Baril connection to the Royals wasn’t over. His son, Pierre, was drafted out of the CJHL by the club in 1981.

In his third season and final season with the Royals, Pierre was appointed team captain.   Strange how life works. If Red Lascelle hadn’t walked into that hardware store back in 1963 to ask a guy he didn’t know if he wanted to buy a piece of a rag-tag hockey team that drew about 100 fans, Cornwall’s name would not be on the Memorial Cup.

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