A million mercis for the Molsons


Generous donation marks 'a wonderful day' for the future of McGill's men's team



(courtesy The Gazette)

January 26, 2011

McGill Redmen hockey has a million new reasons to feel good about this season.

Former Redmen player Stephen T. Molson and his wife, Nancy, yesterday made a $1-million gift to support coaching, player recruitment and program development for the university team.

The gift matches the largest amount given to a varsity sports team at McGill. Alumni David Kerr and his wife, Sheryl, gave the same amount to the women's hockey program in 2007.

"It's an exciting day for our program," said first-year head coach Kelly Nobes. "To get such a generous gift from Mr. and Mrs. Molson is really going to allow us to operate on a professional level and help us continue to be a national calibre program."

Molson, a native of Montreal, graduated from McGill in 1963 and played for the Redmen from 1958 to 1963.

The former president of the Molson Foundation is a life governor of McGill's Martlet Foundation after having served on its board as honorary secretary and trustee. He also was honorary chairperson of the McConnell Arena renewal campaign and co-chaired a committee that led to the creation of the McGill Sports Hall of Fame

The gift comes only days before the hockey team celebrates its 134th birthday (Jan. 31). It was the first organized hockey team in the world.

The Redmen are ranked No. 2 in the CIS and at 21-0-2 is the only team in Canadian university hockey yet to lose a game in regulation time this season.

McGill executive director of athletics and recreation Drew Love said the gift marked "a wonderful day" for the future of the men's hockey program.

"The success of a varsity program begins with the coaching staff. Gifts of this magnitude are somewhat unique in Canada and much needed for McGill to field a competitive team that can challenge for a national championship," Love said. "Hopefully, this will inspire other potential donors -not just for McGill, but for other university sports teams across the country."

Nobes will able to use "an endowed named" coaching position known as the Stephen & Nancy Molson Redmen Hockey Coach to secure a full-time assistant, but also will bolster recruiting and support the needs of student athletes off the ice.

"If you look at major junior hockey, there's a general manager, head coach and a full-time assistant coach, Nobes said. "In NCAA hockey, there's a head coach and a number of paid assistants and, obviously, NHL teams have a number of assistants.

"There's a lot that goes on in the day-to-day operation and there are not many programs in the CIS that have full-time assistants. This puts us on a totally different level, so it's real exciting for our program."

Former Redmen head coach Martin Raymond also called it "a great day" for McGill hockey.

Raymond, an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning, was at the helm of the program for 14 years until 2009, and early in his tenure formalized a proposal on the importance of having a second full-time coach on staff.

"I was always asked what I needed to make the program better and having a full-time assistant was the first thing I always answered," Raymond told The Gazette. "It usually was responded to with 'Well, that's not going to happen.'

"It may have taken a while, but I'm really happy and excited for the program, thanks to the generosity of the Molsons," Raymond said. "That was something we had hoped for a while back and it's finally come to fruition, so I'm very happy."

The Molson family and the Molson Foundation are the longest continuing donors to McGill, and among its largest benefactors.

rphillips [at] montrealgazette.com

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