When the Montreal Canadiens Alumni Team visits Nelson in late-January to take on the Kootenay Patricks for the Make A Change Canada charity game, a career pick-up hockey player will have the best seat in the house.
On January 23, Paul Major will celebrate his 70th birthday in memorable fashion when he pulls on the fabled Canadiens jersey and joins the alumni squad on defence. Signed up as one of the game’s “thrill of a lifetime” participants, Major will take a regular shift with former stars of the NHL.
“The passion for the game has never been higher for me,” said Major. “I have always liked hockey, but never as much as this.”
Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, in the early-1960s, the game actually shut a door on him.
“If there was minor hockey, you had to try out for it . . . you couldn’t just pay and play,” says the Nelson resident. “And I could never make it; I wasn’t good enough. So a couple of years later, I rented the ice and invited my friends to play pick-up. It has been that way ever since.”
When he was 25, Major joined a group of old-timers who were kind enough to let him play despite being much younger than the rest of the crew. He played weekly pick-up with the same group for 30 years until he retired from teaching elementary school. Upon retirement, Major and his wife, Mary, immersed themselves in their shared passion — sailing.
The couple moved to the South Pacific to live on a sailboat for 10 years where the game of hockey was not to be found.
The Majors were lured back to land-life in 2015 after deciding to be closer to their son, daughter-in-law, and two young grandchildren who had established themselves in Nelson. An active pick-up hockey community in Nelson presented plenty of options, and Major was back on the ice with a whole new enthusiasm for the game.
Tickets for the January 23, 2020, game at the Nelson & District Community Complex are now on sale and can be purchased online.
Those preferring an in-person location can order tickets through Mallard’s Source for Sports in Nelson and Castlegar, at Stuart’s News in Nelson, or at Second Look Used Books in downtown Castlegar.
For information on sponsorship packages for the game and other ways to get involved, email Anne-Marie Edgar, Executive Director.