Former champ Staniowski understands meaning of Memorial Cup
The first game in Memorial Cup history between the eventual champion University of Toronto Schools and the Regina Pats in 1919 was delayed over an hour awaiting the arrival of two troop trains carrying the First World War veterans to Toronto so that the returning soldiers could witness the game.
“It was somewhat appropriate that the game should be delayed to wait on that,” Ed Staniowski noted.
Perhaps no one in the history of the Memorial Cup can speak to both sides of the tournament — its historic significance and what it takes to win — as well as Staniowski, 55, a lieutenant-colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces and the goalie for the 1973-74 Memorial Cup champion Pats.
“The Memorial Cup is the ultimate achievement in junior hockey,” Staniowski said. “I was very fortunate to be part of that 1974 team that made it there and then won it. You don’t realize until after you’ve done it and you look back and see what it took to get there, how many things have to line up and come together. It’s a long, hard, arduous road.”
Since joining the military in 1985, Staniowski has come to appreciate the parallels between hockey players and soldiers.
“The Cup represents and embodies a commitment and sacrifice of a generation of Canadians who went off and served Canada in the Great War, many of whom made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.
“Any team that aspires to attempt to make a run at that Cup, they certainly have to come together with a lot of those same qualities. One has to be careful when making the comparisons certainly, but when you look at the young men and young women that represent the Canadian Forces, they’re the same type of people.
“The same focus and drive that I enjoyed in junior and then later in professional hockey, I currently enjoy since I’ve had the chance to wear the uniform.”
Staniowski is currently stationed in Kingston, Ont., where he is director of primary reserve training, has served tours in Bosnia, Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan, witnessing Canada’s love for hockey in some very unusual places.
“I’ve got pictures of us playing ball hockey in Sierra Leone, West Africa on a tennis court surrounded by jungle,” Staniowski said.
Staniowski’s parents and two older brothers served in the military, as does his wife. He intended to apply to Kingston’s Royal Military College when he was selected 27th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1975 NHL amateur draft. He played 219 NHL games with the Blues, Winnipeg Jets and Hartford Whalers.
“I’m one of those few people who can say, ‘I couldn’t join the army because I was drafted,’ ” Staniowski joked. “I was fortunate to play a great Canadian game with a group of outstanding young individuals on the Regina Pats and later with a couple of NHL teams, and now I’m privileged to serve with the Forces with an outstanding group of Canadians who are dedicated men and women and who represent Canada very proudly in some pretty far off places.
“Every person in their life hopefully gets the opportunity to do something they really enjoy and believe in.
“For me, I’ve had that times two.”
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