Re­mem­ber­ing Max

CeeBees host 20th an­nual Max Shute Me­mo­rial Tour­na­ment

The Compass - - SPORTS - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER SWIM­MING nmercer@cbn­com­pass.ca

Har­bour Grace’s Max Shute had a phi­los­o­phy when it came to mi­nor hockey.

He be­lieved the game was for ev­ery­one and should be fun first and fore­most. Max made sure that if a kid wanted to play, he got a chance to strap on a pair of skates and give it a whirl.

“He was an ad­vo­cate for the grass roots and fair play,” said his nephew Corey Crocker. “Max was about fair play and fun.”

It was a phi­los­o­phy he preached dur­ing his days as the coach­ing di­rec­tor with the thenCon­cep­tion Bay North CeeBees Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion.

From his perch on the rail next to the mi­nor hockey room at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium, Max would watch the game un­fold below him.

“He was very pas­sion­ate about the game,” said Crocker.

That pas­sion man­i­fested it­self in the form of the as­so­ci­a­tion’s house league pro­gram. Max was in­ter­ested in fos­ter­ing the game at that level. House league is a level of hockey that doesn’t ex­clude any­one.

Win­ning isn’t im­por­tant as long as the play­ers are hav­ing fun and hon­ing their skills.

He be­lieved a good house league pro­gram was a ben­e­fit to any as­so­ci­a­tion and that the all­star crowd only ben­e­fited from a sta­ble league un­der them.

“(Max) was to­tally right,” said Crocker, re­flect­ing on his un­cle’s be­liefs. “We’ve lost some of the fair play and the fun.”

20-year run

The Max Shute Me­mo­rial Hockey Tour­na­ment is an an­nual atom tour­na­ment held in Har­bour Grace. For the past two decades, teams have been trav­el­ling to the S.W. Moores with eyes on putting their best foot for­ward in the atom divi­sion.

The week­end of Jan. 29-31, the CeeBees atom A team hosted the 20th Max Shute Me­mo­rial Hockey Tour­na­ment.

Teams from all over com­peted over three-day tour­na­ment.

More im­por­tantly, the play­ers were hav­ing fun. In those mo­ments, it was easy to see Max stand­ing in his favourite spot en­joy­ing the game he loved.

“I think he’d be smil­ing be­cause of the tour­na­ment,” said Crocker. “It was ev­ery­thing he preached.”

When Max died 21 years ago, the fam­ily was look­ing for a way to re­mem­ber him and what he gave to the com­mu­nity.

“One of the ways to hon­our his mem­ory was to cre­ate a hockey tour­na­ment,” said Crocker.

Hockey takes on a dif­fer­ent form as play­ers rise through the ranks. The lower lev­els — novice and atom — are about fos­ter­ing a love for the game in chil­dren and giv­ing them skills nec­es­sary to make it as en­joy­able as pos­si­ble.

As the play­ers progress through the ranks, the game gets away from Max’s phi­los­o­phy. It be­comes more about win­ning and less about hav­ing fun.

“If you’re not hav­ing fun, you shouldn’t be play­ing,” said Crocker. “I think we’ve got­ten away from that.”

With that in mind, it made per­fect sense for the as­so­ci­a­tion’s an­nual atom A home tour­na­ment to be named af­ter Max.

“We’re elated as a fam­ily that they keep his mem­ory go­ing,” said sis­ter Jean Haire. “Max would be very proud and hon­oured to know about the tour­na­ment. We can’t thank mi­nor hockey enough for keep­ing it go­ing.” Still teach­ing his lessons Crocker called the re­la­tion­ship he had with his un­cle as “spe­cial.”

“It gives me shiv­ers just talk­ing about him,” he said. “He was very calm and very much a gen­tle­man.”

Crocker re­mem­bers Max mak­ing nu­mer­ous stops at his home ei­ther on the way to the rink and on the way back for din­ner or just to visit. Dur­ing those vis­its, Max taught Crocker the im­por­tance of play­ing the game for the right rea­sons — hav­ing fun and de­vel­op­ing your skills.

It’s a phi­los­o­phy that the hockey coach hasn’t for­got­ten all of th­ese years later.

“Ev­ery time I do one of my hockey schools, I re­it­er­ate the words fun and skill de­vel­op­ment,” said Crocker.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Jean Haire (cen­tre), the sis­ter of Max Shute, drops the puck for the cer­e­mo­nial face­off at the open­ing game of the 20th Max Shute Me­mo­rial Hockey Tour­na­ment held at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace Jan. 29. Tak­ing the draw are Bay Arena Rovers’ cap­tain Ni­cholas Cros­bie (left) and CeeBees mi­nor cap­tain Ja­cob Kennedy.

PHOTO BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER/THE COM­PASS

CeeBees mi­nor atom A for­ward Jonathon But­ler makes a move aroud the Marys­town goal dur­ing round robin ac­tion at the Max Shute Me­mo­rial Hockey Tour­na­ment on Jan. 30 at the S.W. Moores Me­mo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace.

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