It’s one thing to play in the Mac’s AAA Hockey Tournament but it’s quite another to be featured on its Wall of Fame.
That is where you’ll find the pictures of nearly 200 players who have played in the 40-year-old tournament and then gone on the achieve hockey greatness.
“You have to have played at a professional level,” said tournament vice chair Chris Turnbull, explaining the criteria required to earn a spot on the wall.
“We draw our line at the National Hockey League,” he continued. “We’ve got 64 or 65 first-round draft picks on our wall of fame and I believe there’s nine or 10 that went first overall in the NHL draft. So that really says something to you about the caliber of players that come through here.”
Girls haven’t always played in the tournament. In fact, for the first time in 14 years, there are no female teams registered in the tournament this year, but that hasn’t stopped organizers from honouring them on the wall.
“In the case of the female players, they didn’t have an NHL to go to but we did put two in there because they did play on the Olympic team,” Turnbull said.
A new display case is also featured on the wall with a Team Canada jersey in it, which was gifted to the tournament after the women’s national team’s request to play an exhibition game at the tournament last year was granted.
After the same pictures and memorabilia stayed the same for nearly 30 years, the wall was finally updated and expanded this year with the addition of 70 new players’ pictures.
“Everybody knows the names and so people always walk by the wall of fame and they always want to see who’s new,” said Turnbull.
Jim Yaworski is a former Junior B coach in Calgary and remembers some of the big name players that showcased their talents at the tournament.
“Mike Green in particular,” recalled Yaworski of seeing Green play at the tournament years ago and who now plays for the Detroit Red Wings.
“That really sticks out. He’s a northeast boy from Calgary and just an excellent hockey player and when you watched him play here you knew he was going to play in the show.”
For players currently playing in the tournament, the idea of seeing their mug shots on the wall one day is almost surreal.
“Oh yeah, I think it would just be huge,” said Calgary Northstars forward Nick Porterfiled.
“It’s just crazy, it’s crazy to think about it.”