Dave Ritcey takes a moment to collect his thoughts before he begins to speak about his father.
He knew at some point the questions would likely come about his dad, Jed, at some point even though he had just announced Truro is preparing to host the World Junior A Challenge this December at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
What Ritcey, the event’s host committee chair, left out of his speech was the fact his father would be the namesake of a legacy fund created as a result of the Hockey Canada tournament.
“There was a reason I left it out,” said Ritcey, flashing a quick grin. “It’s emotional. It’s important to our family but at the same time, it’s definitely emotional.”
Instead, Darren Cossar, Hockey Nova Scotia’s executive director, shared details of the legacy fund with those who gathered for the announcement on January 26 at the RECC.
“With an event like the World Junior A Challenge, it’s not just about what it does at the time. It’s about what’s left behind,” said Cossar. “When an event like this leaves, there are always funds raised which are left behind. The exciting thing for me is that I’m able to announce the World Junior A Challenge legacy will be in recognition of Jed Ritcey.”
Cossar says the legacy fund will be used in a variety of ways on a local level. That includes helping kids get into the game.
The news her husband would be honoured and remembered in such a way was gratifying to Betty Ritcey.
“The Ritcey family is very pleased that Jed is being recognized for his contribution to the game of hockey and local community. He was a modest individual and would be very proud,” she said. “It’s wonderful to know that the legacy in Jed’s memory will provide funding support to local minor hockey development, future event hosting and capital upgrades to arenas in Colchester County. Jed gave many hours towards this sport which he loved. He was a strong believer in giving back to the community.”
Jed passed away in 2008 but not before he left a mark on the game of hockey. In the late 70s, he served as president of Truro and Area Minor Hockey Association. He was a regional director and then chairperson of the Hockey Nova Scotia Minor Council.
That led to him becoming executive vice president and then president of Hockey Nova Scotia where he played a key role during the inaugural season of the Halifax Mooseheads. Jed was the first Nova Scotian in 47 years to be elected to Hockey Canada’s board of officers at vice chair at large.
In the early 2000s, Jed served as an executive committee member for both the 2003 World Junior Hockey Championships and World Women’s Championships held in Halifax. A few years later, he was the chair of accreditation for the World Men’s Hockey Championships in Halifax – the first time the event was ever held in Canada.
He served as vice president of the Maritime Junior A Hockey League in 2007-2008. In 1996, he was named volunteer of the year by Hockey Canada and in 1999, Hockey Nova Scotia named its volunteer of the year award after Jed.
In 2001, he received a gold medal as a staff liaison as a member of Canada’s women’s hockey team at the World Championships in Minnesota. He was awarded the Order of Merit from Hockey Canada in 2003 and two years later, he was appointed a life member of Hockey Nova Scotia before being inducted into the Colchester Sports Hall of Fame in front of friends and family in 2008.
“Every person he talked to, he touched,” said Ritcey. “You couldn’t overlook his love and passion for the game. If he was here today and there was no legacy fund, he’d think us landing the World Junior A Challenge is pretty awesome. But what he’s done for the game and I can say this in all honesty, he deserves the recognition he’s received. The respect factor he had around the country and the friends he developed through hockey meant the world to him. Guys like Darren [Cossar], Bob Nicholson, Tom Renney, Scott Smith and Stu Rath, they were close to dad. There were a lot of people involved in the game who had a great deal of respect for him and he had a great deal of respect for them too.”
Cossar agreed. He shared a story about Jed that defined the man he admired.
“Jed was good to me,” said Cossar. “When I first became executive director for Hockey Nova Scotia, I called all the past presidents and told them, if they were ever in the area, stop by because I’d love to pick their brain. In one sense I’m sad but excited in another sense to say that Jed was the only one who took the time to stop in. He actually stopped in four or five different times. He passed on his wisdom with regards to the game and I am forever grateful to him for that. This legacy fund is just one more way after his passing that he will continue to contribute to the game of hockey in Nova Scotia.”
Once the fund is officially created, a committee will be formed to determine how and when the money will be used. Ritcey says he’d be proud to sit on that committee.
“It’s a great opportunity for something to be put back into the community that bears his name,” he said. “Dad believed every kid should have the opportunity to play hockey. He believed that in a small community and he actually said this during his induction speech into the hall of fame, it’s so important to volunteer and put in the time to give back. He instilled that in me. I’ve taken that and hopefully I can instill that in my kids. But Dad left some pretty big footprints and I know I’ll never fill them.”