“Brendan Shanahan to Highlight Ninth Annual ‘Off the Leash Luncheon’”

By P.J. Kennedy

A distinguished member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, former National Hockey League standout left wing and executive, and current president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan will be the headliner at the ninth annual Huskie “Off the Leash Luncheon” to be held on 2 November at Prairieland Park to raise money for the University of Saskatchewan Men’s Hockey Team.

During an illustrious twenty-one year NHL career which started when he was drafted number two overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1987, Shanahan accumulated twenty or more goals in nineteen consecutive seasons, was a two-time fifty goal scorer, and thirteen times had thirty or more goals in a season. “Shanny” was named an all-star three times and is the only player in NHL history to score 600 goals and have over 2000 penalty minutes. Lifetime, he is ranked sixteenth in NHL games played,  thirteenth in goals scored, fifth in game winning goals (109), and had a cumulative plus/minus of an outstanding  +151.

Following his excellent junior career in the Ontario Hockey League with London Knights (Games Played—115, Goals—67, Assists—87, Points—154), the rugged and skilled 6’3,” 220 lb. winger had professional stops in the NHL with New Jersey (twice), St. Louis, Hartford, Detroit, and in New York with the Rangers.  The native of Mimico, Ontario  is perhaps best known for his nine seasons with Detroit  where he helped win three Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998, and 2002.  Named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013, his positive  numbers speak for themselves: Regular Season Games Played–524, Goals—656, Assists—698, Points—1354, Penalty Minutes—2489.

In addition to his many accomplishments in the NHL, Brendan Shanahan has represented Canada internationally at the World Junior Championships in 1987, Canada Cup in 1991 (gold medal), World Championships in 1994 (gold) and 2006, World Cup of Hockey in 1996 (silver), and the Winter Olympics in 1988 and 2002 (gold).

 Beyond the numbers are the leadership qualities which have been exhibited throughout the Ontario native’s life. Named team captain in Hartford in 1995, he was honoured with the King Clancy Trophy in 2003 for being one who “exemplified leadership qualities on and off the ice [and] as one who has made significant humanitarian contributions to the community.” In recent years he has continued to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s disease,  receiving the Alzheimer’s Association Championship Award in 2016.

Shanahan’s commitment to hockey, and in particular the National Hockey League has been exemplified by his conceiving and organizing  what has come to be known as the “Shanahan Summit”  during the lockout season of 2004-05. The Globe and Mail’s Eric Duhatschek referred to “Shanny” as “the unofficial conscience of the NHL” for calling that meeting of players, coaches, general managers, and referees to discuss the game’s problems including player safety and general flow of the game. Upon retirement as a player in 2009,  he moved into the League’s front office where he served as vice president of hockey and business development until 2011 when he was named senior vice president, player safety and hockey operations. When he left the NHL to become president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Gary Bettman praised Shanahan for being “as much of an ‘impact player’ at the League as he was on the ice.” In Bettman’s words, “Brendan brought commitment, clarity, and impeccable credibility” to his position with the NHL.

In April 2014 Brendan Shanahan was named president and alternate governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has not won a Stanley Cup since 1967.  Since arriving, he has demonstrated superb leadership hiring general manager Lou Lamoriello  and coach Mike Babcock in 2015 and surrounding them with other excellent hockey minds including Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter. In 2016-17, the Leafs under his thoughtful guidance made the playoffs and provided fans with a hard-working, skilful, and entertaining team with exceptional potential to continue forward in quest of the Stanley Cup.

Just as he did as a player and NHL executive, the affable “top dog” at Maple Leaf Nation sets a positive tone when discussing his position. As told to Cece Scott in Active Life, he said: “Underneath my smile is a fierce determination to do whatever it takes. My single biggest dream is to win a Stanley Cup in Toronto. I won’t be entirely happy until I achieve my goal here.”  Brendan, his wife Catherine, and their three children are now part of the Toronto community in which he has moulded a team from the front office to the players on the ice that is well on its way toward helping him fulfil his dream of winning a Cup.  Brendan Shanahan, former player, former NHL executive, current president of the Toronto Maple Leafs should provide those in attendance at this year’s “Off the Leash Luncheon” with an inspiring and entertaining presentation.

Back for another year  as master of ceremonies will be Saskatchewan comedian Kelly Taylor who has become a welcome fixture at the annual event. Everyone is welcome to this year’s “Off the Leash Luncheon” for what is the major fundraiser for the Huskie Men’s Hockey Team.  Doors open at  Prairieland Park on Thursday,  2 November 2017 at 11:00 and the programme begins at 11:30.  Individual tickets are $125. and “Friends of the Dogs” sponsorship packages which include a full table are $1250. Tickets and sponsorships may be purchased through PICATIC at: http://www.picatic.com/offtheleashluncheon2017.