Sidney made his mark in Cape Breton
Bill Sidney was involved in the local hockey scene for more than 50 years
Bill Sidney came to Cape Breton from southern Ontario to make a living in the 1950s and made Cape Breton his life and passion.
Nowhere were his contributions more profound than in Cape Breton’s deep and storied sports community and particularly in the hockey arena.
A successful entrepreneur and community activist, Sidney, who helped bring the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league franchise Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to Sydney in 1997, died this week at age 86. He was the first president of the Screaming Eagles, served as club director of sales for 19 seasons and was inducted into the Cape Breton Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in 2005. Screaming Eagles Chairman Stuart MacLeod aptly described him as “an icon to Cape Breton sports in general and to hockey specifically.”
Sidney came to Glace Bay to be an announcer for the Glace Bay Miners in the 1950s. A few years later, he was one of the local businessmen who stepped in to save the famous Glace Bay “Cinderella” Miners. It was a year the team won just a pair of games in the regular season and then turned things around in the playoffs, winning the Cape Breton and Maritime championships and coming just short of capturing an Eastern Canadian hockey title.
In the late 1960s, Sidney placed a team in the Maritime Junior A league, the Cape Breton Metros. He made headlines when he borrowed a plane to get his players to games and hired ex-NHLers Forbes Kennedy and Bronco Horvath to coach the team.
He also developed an elite high school hockey tournament that drew some of the top high school teams in the country to Cape Breton.
He served as a scout for the Detroit Red Wings and founded the Cape Breton Metros high school hockey tournament. He was chair of the hockey program for the 1987 Canada Winter Games held in Cape Breton.
On the Screaming Eagles
website, the franchise paid tribute to its first president: “Making a difference in the world of junior hockey was nothing new for Bill Sidney.”
Outside sports, he ran a successful aluminum products business, Modern Aluminum Products. But his commitment to local sports forged his deepest bond with the community. He was simply one of Cape Breton’s most passionate champions of sports and his contributions benefited generations of Cape Bretoners.
There are countless reasons to be glad Bill Sidney came up the road from Ontario to make his life down east. His spirit will burn brightly in the heart of hockey and Cape Breton for years to come.