YMHC Player and Volunteer History

 YMHC is very proud and appreciative of the effort that all volunteers, coaches, executive and others have contributed to create a rich and proud history. The following is a brief history of selected volunteers.

Don Awrey: Don coached within YMHC during the early 1970's. Don played centre with the Boston Bruins during the years 1962 to 1973.

Sherry Bassin: In 1968 Sherry Bassin moved to Toronto from Western Canada. He began his hockey coaching career with YMHC in 1969. In 1969, his 1st year as the YMHC Minor Bantams Select Coach, Sherry's team traveled to Chicago and St. Louis and also won the Metro Toronto Hockey League (M.T.H.L) Championships. This was just the beginning of an illustrious hockey career. Sherry moved on to coach the Wexford Midget's to the Ontario Championships in 1970, the Pickering Junior B to the M.T.H.L Championships. Sherry also managed and coached the Oshawa Generals, coached the Canadian World Junior team to a gold medals in 1982/83, and 1983/84 and a silver medal in 1986/86. He coached the Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds to 3 consecutive O.H.L Championships. He was the assistant manager of the NHL Quebec Nordiques and subsequently owned and managed the Erie Otters to an O.H.L Championship and has served as both an Executive and Chairman of the Board of the O.H.L.

Dr. Mike Clairfield: Mike was both a player and a referee in YMHC during the early years. Mike subsequently became the Physician for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Robert Cimetta: Robert played in YMHC from 1976 to 1981. Robert subsequently played for the Toronto Young Nationals from 1982 to 1985, the Don Mills Flyers in 1985 and the Toronto Marlies from 1986 to 1988. In 1988 he was drafted by the Boston Bruins and played for them from 1989 to 1990 and then the Toronto Maple leafs from 1990 to 1993.

David Garard: David was a house league and select coach from 1996 through the 2004 / 2005 season. David was also a valuable contributor to the Executive and always proud to represent YMHC. David, together with Mark Etherington, Kevin Brillinger, Glenn Sora and Jeff Kline (early years) established a program and level of success that has set the standard for all YMHC Select teams. Together, their success story is truly remarkable: 1996 - NYHL Tier 3 Champs, 1997 - Scarborough Sabers and Goulding Park Tournament Champs; 1998 - Silver Medal in Lake Placid Tournament, 1st place and NYHL Tier 1 Champs; 2000 - Canada Cup (Montreal) Tournament Champs, Shamrock Tournament Champs, King Clancy Champs; 2001 - USA Cup (Cleveland) Champs, NYHL Tier 1 Champs; 2002 - Sportsweekend Tournament Champs (Detroit); 2003 - Wexford Tournament Champs, NYHL Tier 1 Champs, 2004 - Ft. Lauderdale American Thanksgiving Bronze, Toronto Valentines Tournament Champs. David's teams have traveled to Europe not once but twice over the years…in 2000 they traveled to Finland and Sweden where they won a Silver Medal and then participated in 2002 in an International Tournament in France and Switzerland where they won Gold. Over the years, David's teams record was an impressive 237 wins, 101 losses and 41 ties (despite losing their 1st 9 games in season 1!). As impressive a record as David's teams have attained, for David the best part was the shared journey that he, his fellow coaches, players and parents enjoyed over the years.

Jay Granatstein: Jay Granatstein spent 25 years with York Mills Hockey Club – from 1980 to 2005.  Jay felt that his time spent with the Club "were some of the best years of my life."

Jay started with the club in 1980 when his son Rob, age 6, started playing hockey.  At the time, the 6 and 7 year-old league had six teams but only two coaches.  Jay eagerly jumped in as a coach – there were now three coaches to run the six-team division. Between instructing and officiating, the coaches never left the ice.   In his first year, Jay was requested by Bruce Magee to join the Board of Directors.  Jay maintained an active and valuable role on the Board for all of his 25 years with the Club.

In 1982, Jay assumed the role of convenor for the 8 and 9-year-olds while at the same time coaching a house league team, a select team, organizing league sponsorship and  team sweaters.

In 1983 his youngest son David joined the league and he stepped behind the bench for his team too.

Three years later, David made the eight-year-old's select team and again Jay took on the coaching duties  
 
For the next 10 hockey seasons, he coached four teams (two house league teams and two select teams) and convened one age division, managed sponsorship tasks including coordinating uniform requirements for the league. When his youngest son left for university, Jay stopped coaching, but didn't leave the York Mills Hockey Club. Jay stayed on the Board and continued to look after hockey jerseys for the league and act as an advisor in all capacities.

Jay wouldn't have traded his moments with his sons on the ice for anything in the world. As a member of the York Mills Hockey Club, he was honoured to be part of an organization that was so important in the lives of so many kids in my community.  Jay’s dedication and contribution to the Club over 25 years were invaluable.

David Harlock: David started skating at the age of three and began playing organized hockey in York Mills Hockey Club in 1977 at age six.  The first house league team David played for was Helen Simpson Flowers and his coach was Bob Armstrong (the father of a neighborhood friend).  David soon began playing select and “A” hockey for YMHC in the North York Hockey League and won several league championships with Seymour Rubenstein as coach.  David has many fond memories of YMHC as “this is where it all began”.  He had the opportunity to play on teams with some of his closest friends, enjoyed early morning practice in frigid temperatures, and had many fond memories of carrying trophies around the rink.  What more could a child ask for?

Upon starting grade seven, David made the jump to “AAA” with the Toronto Red Wings and began attending Crescent School.  He played for the Red Wings from Peewee through Midget.  During his Bantam season, he was drafted by the Ottawa 67’s but chose not to pursue the OHL route.  He then spent one year with the St. Michael’s Buzzers and won a provincial Junior B championship.  During that season, David accepted a hockey scholarship to the University of Michigan.

While at Michigan, David had the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament on three occasions and made the Final Four twice.  Upon completion of his freshmen season, he was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the 2nd round of the NHL draft.  David was a three-time captain at Michigan for only the second time in school history and graduated in 1993 with a liberal arts degree in English.

During his sophomore year of university, David was chosen to represent Canada in the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  They beat Russia in the final game of the tournament to win a gold medal.  Upon graduating from Michigan, David was chosen to represent Canada in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway and left the games with a silver medal (Sweden beat Canada in a shootout in the gold medal game).

Upon graduating from Michigan, David signed my first professional contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  When the Winter Olympics concluded, he was assigned to their minor league affiliate in St. John’s, Newfoundland but was recalled soon after to play his first NHL game against the Dallas Stars.  Over the first five years of his career, he played NHL games with Toronto and Washington but spent most of this time in the minors.  His first full NHL season was spent in Long Island, New York with the Islanders.  Following this season, he was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 NHL expansion draft.  David then spent the next three seasons in Atlanta before being traded to Philadelphia where he finished my career playing for their minor league affiliate. 

Orel Hershiser: Orel played in YMHC during the 1973 to 1975 seasons. Orel subsequently was a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers from years 1983 to 1994. Orel subsequently played for the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, before returning to finish his career with Dodgers in 2000. His best year was in 1988 when he went 23-8 with the Dodgers. He finished with 204 wins, and set the MLB record for 59 consecutive scoreless innings.

Brad Hood: Brad was a member of the YMHC 1974 Peewee team that participated in the Quebec International Pewee Tournament where the team made it to the semi-finals. Brad went on to captain the Toronto Marlies Major Junior A team for a number of years.

Judge Joe Kane: Joe was a coach in YMHC during the late 1970's. He set the standard for coaching within YMHC at the time. Coaching was his passion - "it was all I wanted to do." In previous years, Joe was the coach for the Toronto Varsity Blues from 1962 to 1964, were his team's record was 32 wins, 6 losses and 2 ties. His team's finished in 1st place 2 times and won the Queens (Ontario) Cup in 1963 and 1964. Joe was also a lawyer, County and Superior Court Judge and was an Arbitrator for the NHL. He was instrumental in bringing a hockey program to York Mills Collegiate in the early 1980's.

Bruce Magee: Bruce dedicated 25 years of volunteer service for YMHC. Bruce was the President from 1983 to 1987 and Treasurer until 1997. After his passing in 1997 YMHC established the Bruce Magee MVP award which is given out each Championship Weekend to the MVP of each divisional game. Bruce was known for his neatness - before the kids went on the ice, Bruce would often inspect the kids before they entered the ice to make sure their uniforms were neat, especially that their sweaters were outside their pants hanging neat and straight. Bruce was well known for his fondness for smoking cigars.

Ken McKee: Ken was a coach within YMHC from 1973 to 1975. Ken subsequently became a respected and well known sports journalist with the Toronto Star.

Mark Napier: Mark played in YMHC during the late 1960's. Mark subsequently played for the Toronto Marlies in 1973/74. As an underage junior, he played for the Toronto Toros in 1975 of the WHA, and then in 1976/77 he played for the Birmingham Bulls. Mark was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens as the 10th selection in round 1 of the 1977 NHL draft. Mark played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1978 to 1984 winning a Stanley cup with them in 1979, the Minnesota North Stars in 1984, Edmonton Oilers from 1984 to 1986 and Buffalo Sabers from 1986 to 1988. Mark was subsequently the head coach of the Toronto St. Michaels Majors OHL team in 1997 / 98.

Steve Napier: Steve played in YMHC during 1963 to 1964 seasons. Steve went on to play in the NYHL in 1965 to 1967 for York Mills and subsequently played for the Toronto Marlies and Don Mills Flyers within the GTHL. Steve progressed to play for the Junior A Wexford Raiders before finishing his career with Cornell University. Since 1982, Steve has been affiliated with the Markham Waxers.

Stephen J. Lende: Under the direction of President Stephen J. Lende, 1976 and 1977, significant contributions to YMHC were made.

In order to capture the history of the league, Steve initiated the tradition of posting all league team pictures on the walls of York Mills arena in 1975. This tradition continues today. To raise league profile, Coaches were outfitted with distinctive red and blue jackets which were highly regarded.

When Steve took the helm, it was discovered that league finances were not in good order. It appeared that league funds were missing. Through his efforts these funds were restored.

Prior to the start of the 1976 season, participation was down to 300 players. Steve contacted existing sponsors and attracted new sponsors and was able to increase league revenues. By the end of the 77 season, the league had increased participation to approximately 750 players.

At a time when relations between Quebec and english Canada were at a low, Steve initiated a home and home series with house league teams from Quebec. Players and families were billeted at the other team's homes which created a true exchange of culture. Steve was passionate that the game of hockey could help resolve cultural differences. This tradition continued for a few years after Steve departed from YMHC.

As one his last efforts, Steve positioned the league to once again participate at the A, AA and AAA levels. This initiative mysteriously faded away.

Outside of hockey, Steve was a successful lawyer. In 1968 he was the federal election campaign manager for John Turner.

Steve's fondest memories were of York Mills Hockey Club. Steve often remarked to his family and friends that if people just remembered him for his efforts within York Mills Hockey, that would be satisfaction enough.

In 2005, through his sons Michael and Daniel, the Stephen J Lende Volunteer of the Year Award was established to be awarded annually by the Executive of York Mills Hockey Club. In conjunction with the special 50th anniversary celebration, held Saturday April 2, 2005, Michael and Daniel made the initial presentation.

Ed "Corky" Ross (1932-1987): Ed Ross, an Executive of YHMC, was a catalyst in the formation of YMHC Executive during the early 60's assisting in the establishment of the Charter in 1964. Ed was the first YMHC Coach to participate in the prestigious Quebec Peewee Hockey Tournament in 1974, advancing to the semi-finals.

After his York Mills days were over, at the request of Doug Napier, Ed represented Doug's son Mark as his player agent. Together with Doug Napier, Ed was responsible for changing the landscape associated with the junior draft. Previously, the minimum age for the draft was 21, but due to the efforts of Ed and Doug, the age of the draft was changed from 21 to 18. Mark Napier made the jump from the Toronto Marlies to the Toronto Toros of the WHA at the age of 18, changing the landscape for all junior players. The NHL was forced to alter their draft age in order not to loose their junior stars to the WHA.

Ed, together with Doug Napier and Gus Badali took the next step and went on to create Sierra Sports Management, one of the first sports management organizations. Together they represented such well know players as Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Steve Yzerman, John Tonelli and of course, Doug's son Mark Napier. At one time they represented over 75 of the finest NHL hockey players.

Ed also owned and managed the North York Junior B's in the 1970's.

Although Ed never played hockey he developed a profound love and passion for the game. Ed was a well respected gentleman both personally and professionally and a proud contributor to the rich history of YMHC.

Steve Simmons: Steve played in YMHC during the early 1970's. Steve was both a goalie and forward. Steve was the only player in the league to wear goalie skates when playing forward. Steve went on to become a well known and respected columnist with the Toronto Sun and media personality on local sports programs.


If you are aware of significant additional contributions by other YMHC Volunteers, please contact any member of the YMHC Executive.