Fr. David Bauer David Bauer pictured in the St. Michael's College Hockey Team jersey in 1944.

St. Mike's severs all ties with major junior hockey

  • May 16, 2012

TORONTO - St. Michael's College School is officially out of the Ontario Hockey League.

After reappearing in the major junior hockey ranks in 1997 after a three-decade hiatus, with the sale of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors earlier this month, the midtown Toronto school has severed all links with the OHL team.

Eugene Melnyk, the St. Mike's alumni who bought the team from the Basilian Fathers of St. Mike's in 2002, sold the team to Mississauga, Ont., businessman Elliot Kerr. Melnyk — who also owns the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League — operated the team out of St. Michael's Arena on the school's campus in the first years of his ownership and kept the St. Michael's name as part of its brand. He moved the team to Mississauga for the 2007-08 season, again keeping the St. Michael's name. 

"In the end it was economic considerations," said Fr. Joseph Redican, CEO of the private school. "Mr. Melnyk's heavily involved in the Senators and I think it just proved to be a little bit more costly then he was willing to support. 

"We sold it over 10 years ago to Eugene Melnyk largely because we weren't able to give it the kind of financial backing it needed. As a high school, even as a fairly high end private school, we cannot be in that kind of semi-professional hockey. Schools are best doing educational things."

St. Mike's will reclaim the Majors brand and will attach it to its newly revamped varsity hockey program.

"It will once again be a team that is exclusively students in the school," said Redican. "There was a certain amount of recognition that was positive for the school but the team that played last year in the Memorial Cup had one St. Michael's student on it so the representation was largely symbolic."

The school has a rich hockey history in the major junior ranks, capturing four Memorial Cup titles as Canada's top Junior 'A' team. A number of alumni went on to stardom in the NHL, among them 13 Hall of Famers, including Ted Lindsay, Frank Mahovlich, Dave Keon, Red Kelly and Tim Horton. 

In the early 1960s the school dropped out of Junior 'A' competition after more than 55 years. Fr. David Bauer, the Hall of Famer who ran the organization, felt the gruelling schedule and rough play conflicted with the school's ideals. The program was revitalized in 1996 and reappeared for the 1997-98 OHL season.

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