A few of hockey’s greats have flocked to the Queen City as the best junior hockey talent in the country compete for the ultimate prize and the honour of being called a Memorial Cup Champion.
The 100th edition of the tournament will run until May 27 when a winner will be crowned.
As a part of the week-long festivities, a few of hockey’s all-time greats were in Regina for the unveiling of a commemorative stamp to mark the centennial anniversary of the tournament and the Pats hockey team.
Ed Staniowski and Dennis Sobchuk — members of the 1974 Regina Pats Memorial Cup winning team — as well as Guy Lafleur, who won the cup in 1971 on the Quebec Remparts, were on hand at Regina City Hall for the reveal.
The stamp features two Pats players facing each other, one representing the past and one the modern era, with the Memorial Cup in the middle.
The trophy is meant to honour those who have served in the military, which includes Staniowski, who joined the armed forces after his retirement from professional hockey.
“Anyone who has had the fortune or the privilege to wear the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces or to have played in the Canadian Hockey League or have gone on to play in the NHL can appreciate what that stamp represents and it’s tied to the legacy of a very, very special trophy,” Staniowski said.
One thing all the players agreed on was the honour that comes from raising junior hockey’s crown jewel.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to be one of 100, which is a big thing for Canada, because how many millions of players have strapped on their skates,” Sobchuk said.
Lafleur — one of the honourary captains along with Sobchuk for the tournament — has had success in the NHL as well, winning five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens.
Lafleur said the tournament gives players a chance to show they have what it takes to compete with the spotlight on them.
“You have to be ready mentally and physically and be ready to pay the price to win,” Lafleur said. “There’s always a price for any cup.”
While the week provides many hockey legends to look back at their own junior years during the games, the rain also brought up memories for Lafleur.
The rain was coming down when Lafleur and Sobchuk were introduced to the crowd at Mosaic Stadium as the captains for the week, much like it was raining during the 1971 Memorial Cup victory parade and not a lot of people showed up that day.
“When I was going up with the cup with Dennis, I was telling him ‘Time doesn’t change, still raining today,’” Lafleur said.
The tournament runs until May 27.