Leave it to the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs to define, redefine, and exemplify, the word "class." Their year-end Fan Appreciation Night at Kingston's Ambassador Hotel represented a melange of the reasons they have become the model junior hockey franchise in the Limestone City. Open to all fans and supporters, the team repeatedly referred to its amazing, unprecedented community support in their historic divisional, provincial, and regional championship wins. The first team in eighty years in Kingston to represent the city at a national junior hockey championship did exhibit the usual fare of team awards; soon-to-be Golden Gael Stephane Chabot named team MVP, goaltender extraordinaire Shawn Sirman the playoff MVP, and to nobody's surprise, Brock Higgs named the most outstanding rookie.
Leave it to event MC Mark Potter to ask questions at the podium that no other likely would've. Apart from the usual fare of putting into words the delight the players and coaches felt at their historic run, he pressed Higgs on his oft-speculated future in hockey. His response, verbatim: "Looks like I'm coming back to the Voyageurs next year." In a bit more detail - so as to preserve NCAA eligibility.
But the way in which no stone was left unturned in the team's appreciation impressed me to no end. Every team billet was named and honoured, and every player, coach, and volunteer with the team was presented with a championship ring, acquired not by the league but by team owner Gregg Rosen himself. No cheap imitations, either; these were, as many I spoke with characterized them, Stanley Cup-caliber rings.
But there was a level of respect and downright admiration in the crowd that night that prevented any of it from seeming over the top. Nothing was seen as a cheap gimmick or a ploy for publicity, but rather as sincere expressions of gratitude and reflection on a season of unmatched achievement. When Rosen stood at the podium and declared that in 2012, not only would Kingston host the RBC Cup, but enter as league champions in their own right, there were no snickers, rolling of eyes, or guffaws as might be produced by other predictions of a national tournament. That is because, in only three years, the Kingston Kimco Voyageurs impressed an entire city with its ability to achieve more than some organizations do in twelve.
It wasn't achieved through luck, nor were there shortcuts to be taken advantage of. This was an achievement produced by ambition and smarts, two qualities that many franchises are in dire need of. Nor did they waste time on gloating, nor on endless self-congratulation, but only reflection on a job well done and a confident eye towards the future.
And heck, if they get a good new goalie, it's one heck of a bright future.
Related (though we scooped them):
Scoring star leans toward return to team (Mike Koreen, Kingston Whig-Standard)