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A Nostalgic Minor Hockey Banquet

MikeMathewSteve1A 

Mike shares a moment with District 2 star hockey player Mathew Stein and his dad/coach Steve Stein.

I remember vividly my days growing up in Côte Saint-Luc and playing in the minor hockey system. These were some of the "best" times of my life. When I started out as a six year old, Cöte Saint-Luc did not have an arena. We played out of Montreal West and the games were scheduled for very early Saturday and Sunday mornings. The night before all of my equipment was neatly placed on the basement floor. I got up, had a light breakfast and got into uniform. I even put my skates on, protecting them with safety blades. My dad, who also served as my coach, put me in the back seat. For many of those years we picked up my talented teammate, Leon Krantzberg - number 16 - and his mom Geraldine. The house league action was competitive and fun.

When I reached the Bantam level, the Samuel Moskovitch Arena in Côte Saint-Luc was built. Scheduled games switched to weeknights and in my final season of Midget I finally made the inter-city "A" team, being called up midway through the season. In what would be my final game, period and shift, a player from Hampstead checked me into the boards. I fell hard on my back, crushing two vertebrae on my spine. An ambulance rushed me to the hospital. I ended up spending a few weeks at the Montreal Neurological Institute. The injury ended my days as a hockey player and actually played a major role in launching my career in journalism. You see, I was fairly incapacitated that summer. I had to give up my job as a camp counsellor and ended up doing some reporting for The Monitor and Suburban newspapers about the local Slo Pitch league. In the fall I started covering minor hockey.

What do I remember most from my hockey career? I loved the feeling of scoring a goal. My dad, Lawrence Frederick Cohen (a.k.a. Larry Fredericks), coached my team for many of those years. He also helped coordinate some of the most amazing end of season banquets. Because he was a sports writer he had access to the city's professional athletes. He would therefore bring along with him the likes of Expos slugger Rusty Staub and Habs legend Jean Beliveau to hand out trophies.

CohenBeliveau1969

Yes that is Mike (right), in 1970, with hockey legend Jean Beliveau at a  Minor Hockey Banquet.

As a city councillor I now look forward to attending these events. On April 19, 2009, Mayor Anthony Housefather, Councillors Ruth Kovac, Allan J. Levine and I presided over the Minor Hockey Banquet. There was a great turnout of players, coaches and parents. Minor Hockey President Victor Waisgrus served as the master of ceremonies. The Mayor, Councillors Kovac and Levine and I handed out nice plaques with the players' individual photo posted and mini-hockey sticks with their names, We all posed for photos (boy do I ever wish the digital camera existed in the 1970s) and then shared some pizza. I enjoyed sitting with the boys talking hockey, particularly my young constituent Mathew Stein, who plays for the Atom League Penguins. His dad and coach is Steve Stein. Not only are Steve, Mathew, mom Arlene and brother Jessie outstanding residents of District 2, I also had the good fortune of speaking at the wedding of Steve and Arlene, two old friends.

Congratulations to the Minor Hockey Association on another good season. The banquet was very nostalgic for me. 

The  photo below, taken in 1970, shows Mike being presented with a trophy by former Expos baseball superstar Rusty Staub at a Minor Hockey Banquet.

CohenStaub1971

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