CeeBees host 20th annual Max Shute Memorial Tournament
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.”
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.
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.
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.