It has come to my attention that the new ice facility in Fort Frances is going to be named after the 1952 Allan Cup winning hockey team.
When the people of Fort Frances rallied to have a new ice facility built in this town, they appropriately named the drive “Ice for Kids.” This group of people, right from the beginning, met roadblock after roadblock with town council on the need for a new rink. The town appropriately or conveniently decided that a feasibility study was in order to help make a decision of a need for a new rink.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out this need. All I have to do is look down the highway towards Emo and Rainy River, with their small population and one rink in each town, to figure out that a town of 9,000 people probably needs two rinks.
So to see the neglect of town council, one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist, either.
Only after town council backed itself into a corner with the partial funding of the new auditorium did the people see the neglect.
Now under pressure from the “Ice for Kids” committee, the town bowed down and came up with a challenge for that group to raise a certain amount of money and the rink would be built.
“Ice for Kids” met the challenge. Hooray new rink! But due to some more fumbling, its construction was delayed.
Now I see this new structure being built. It look good, it looks solid. I’m excited, not so much for myself, but for the kids of this town.
A new auditorium, a new high school, a new rink. Things are good. For the kids. Right?
Now I get back to the name of the new ice facility.
I can think of two people in this town who not only made a name for themselves in their sport but put Fort Frances on the map. One is Danny Johnson, playing professional hockey for years, who had integrity on and off of the ice and was a pillar of the community. The other is Mike Allison--playing 10 years in the NHL at a time when getting there was hard and staying there even harder.
To have the greatest hockey player that ever lived being quoted as calling Mike Allison “Mr. Clutch” says something about Mike’s integrity.
Now Mike is back in town, not only living here but graciously giving back to the community what he took out. The Allison family themselves have put more into this community than 100 Allan Cup winning teams could ever do.
Even here, I am stumped because who in this town really holds in its hand the true innocence and spirit of Fort Frances? Who really should be recognized here?
No matter what the rink is called or named, in my heart and hopefully in my children’s hearts and their children’s hearts, the rink will be remembered as “for the children of this town.”
Tony Kadikoff Jr.