Leading in to the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship the host committee
has formed the Playmakers group, bringing together business leaders from
across B.C. to serve as event ambassadors and strategic advisors, as well
as serving as a connection to local partners and businesses in Vancouver
The Playmakers will help share the message from Hockey Canada and the host
committee, and support initiatives around community engagement and the
benefits of hosting the World Juniors in their backyard.
This month, HockeyCanada.ca sat down with Ron Toigo (majority owner,
Vancouver Giants, WHL) and Barry Petrachenko (chief executive officer, B.C.
Hockey), who serve as co-chairs of the host organizing committee.
Q: Why is it important for you to be involved in the 2019 IIHF World
RT: It was something that we did in the past, in 2006 (Toigo led the host
committee then, as well), and it was a really great event for the city and
the province. There was an opportunity to get it back after 12 or 13 years;
it’s just a good event for our community, and the timing was right.
BP: It’s a great event, and arguably the greatest amateur hockey event in
Canada. That’s first and foremost. We think the involvement of B.C. Hockey
brings that event down to the grassroots and helps in our attempts to
ensure that everyone in British Columbia gets an opportunity to celebrate
hockey, and to be aware of the great things that are involved in the game.
Q: How does B.C. Hockey plan to celebrate its 100th anniversary in
conjunction with the World Juniors?
BP: We’re hoping that the championship will provide the platform to bring
some attention to some of the things we’re doing to celebrate. We’ll be
announcing the 100 great moments in our history, including events, people
and things that happened around hockey. We also will be conducting the Road
to the World Juniors, which will begin in October, and all areas of the
province will be visited by that. At pre-competition sites we’ll be working
with our minor hockey associations to deliver a World Juniors-themed
tournament in those communities. It’s a good tie-in to our 100th
anniversary, and that will be a major story for us around B.C. all year,
and the World Juniors is a great cherry on top of that.
Q: Why are Vancouver and Victoria the right cities to host the World
RT: Vancouver has a good history from doing it in the
past; it has a reputation as an event city and supports these things when
they come along. We needed another city to do it with us; we went with
Kelowna and Kamloops the last time [in 2006], and Victoria was very
enthusiastic to be a part of this. It worked out well, and as a result
Victoria has almost sold out with its event.
Q: What will the World Juniors mean to minor hockey in British
BP: I think the World Juniors mean a lot to all minor hockey players in the
country. It serves as something to weave into the fabric of our holiday
season, it brings families together around the game, it gives young people
something to feel great about and to cheer along with, and to connect to
hockey. I think we’ll definitely get that in British Columbia. I also think
that it will serve as a boon to participation; if we do this right, we’ll
be able to get more people to try hockey. We’ve maybe not focused on that
aspect of it in the past, and we certainly have that in our plans this year
to expose them to the game through the different opportunities, whether
it’s around the competition or around the Road to the World Juniors. We
think that if you try hockey you’ll love it, so we think the World Juniors
will give us a reason for people to come out and give it a try.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish with the Playmakers group?
RT: The Playmakers group is really a group of individuals who are connected
throughout the city and the community business-wise and sports-wise. To be
able to tap into all of those resources to make sure that the message gets
out on the World Juniors and for people that want to be involved in it and
participate in it, it’s a great opportunity for them to get involved.
Q: What is your connection with hockey?
RT: I’ve owned a Major Junior team since 1991, so I’ve
been involved in this level of hockey for a long, long time. I’ve been
fortunate to watch the World Juniors from its start, and now it’s really
evolved into something that none of us could have anticipated back in the
early ‘90s. It has turned into a really great international event that
unites the world in its own little way.
BP: It’s hard to think of a time that I wasn’t connected to the game. I was
playing the game since I remember, whether that was with a toy sword
fashioned as a hockey stick in the kitchen of my grandparents’ house, to
now playing as an old-timer. Of course, I work in hockey, so I do this
professionally, and it’s become my work, my life. It’s been something there
as a fan, as a player, and now as a parent of a player, it just seems to be
a part of me. And as for the World Juniors, I’m old enough to have seen the
first one, so it’s been a big part of my life, and it’s so exciting to see
it come to B.C. again. I really consider myself fortunate to be getting an
opportunity to do this for a second time.