by Darren Lum
After seven years the Scotty Morrison Hockey Tournament is cancelled and won’t see an eighth year after raising more than $200000 net in its history.
Haliburton Highlands Health Services Foundation chairperson Peter Oyler made the “regrettable decision” on Jan. 5 to cancel the event that raised more than $38000 last year for Community Support Services based on three factors: a lack of sponsors volunteers and a tournament organizer.
Oyler said there was one major sponsor which he did not name that did not commit in time.
Second there was a lack of volunteers despite a recruiting a process that started in September.
Among them include those who secured silent auction items and Mark Dennys who was the bartender for the past three years. He was unable to volunteer because of a family commitment. Dennys not only volunteered 22 hours of his time towards ordering serving and returning unopened alcohol but also had SmartServe. Oyler said there wasn’t anyone to replace him for free. There were volunteers from the previous committee who did not commit to the 2016 event.
Third they couldn’t find a replacement for long-time tournament co-ordinator Walter Tose.
Oyler adds with three other major fundraisers (Magic of Giving Making Moments Matter campaign for palliative care and the Cash for Care Lottery) for the Foundation it was too much to ask of his two staff members and a small group of volunteers to pick up the tasks that needed to be done.
He said the Foundation is in the preliminary stages of planning another event with community members to make up for the lost revenue. He expects the event for the middle of spring. It will not have a sports theme.
When Scotty Morrison the retired NHL referee-in-chief the tournament was named after received news of the cancellation early last week he was disappointed.
Morrison said a few weeks after the 2015 event he told the Foundation he would not be as involved with the event at the wrap up meeting as previous years. He agreed to lend his name to the event and took on the title of “honorary chairman” of the event.
“A lot of people said ‘Scotty when you’re not involved why would you let them.’ I said I’m hoping that they’ll be able to continue and have it as successful as it has been in the past seven years. Obviously that didn’t work out” he said.
As of a few weeks ago he assumed the event was still going. He had not been in touch with former committee members about their involvement.
He said the event was a true community event which garnered support from everyone to support community services.
Although he was not specific he said something changed two years ago when Community Care Haliburton County and the HHHS were integrated at the direction of the Central East Local Health Integration Network.
“Everything from that point on was different” he said.
As for the future Morrison was definite about any event branding with his name.
“I have advised the Foundation that my name is not to be used under any circumstances with any future planning of a hockey tournament” he said.