Hextall on Hockey: the MJHL’s new commissioner

Outgoing MJHL commissioner Kim Davis (right) welcomes new commissioner Kevin Saurette (left).
Outgoing MJHL commissioner Kim Davis (right) welcomes new commissioner Kevin Saurette (left). Jordan Pearn / Global News

The new Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) commissioner, Kevin Saurette, is a Brandon product like me. We went to high school together, and while he won’t admit it, as members of the Vincent Massey Vikings badminton team, I often beat him on the court.

While his badminton skills aren’t as superior as mine, his hockey resume makes him an excellent successor to outgoing commissioner Kim Davis.

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Saurette has served as the MJHL’s director of operations since 2016 after a hockey career that spanned from the WHL to the AHL and overseas. Adding to his playing resume, he also has a Master in Business Administration and has married the two to bring exciting new initiatives to the league.

I have full faith Kev will be an excellent commissioner with his background in the sport and love of the game.

READ MORE: Kim Davis stepping down as commissioner of Manitoba Junior Hockey League

That being said, I can’t say enough about Kim Davis. For 18 years he has been the leader and builder of the MJHL. In my early sports reporting days, he was always available and patient with me as I learned the ropes.

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During his tenure, the MJHL has won seven Anavet Cups, made three appearances in the national final, and brought home a championship in 2015 with the Portage Terriers.

Davis created the MJHL Showcase Weekend, which brings every team in the league to a central location where hundreds of pro and college scouts come to view the on-ice product. It’s an excellent recruitment tool that leads to more opportunities for his players.

On a personal note, last spring, Kim offered me the chance to call four games in the play-by-play role at this season’s MJHL showcase.

He said, “Leah, we see what you’re trying to accomplish in the play-by-play role and it’s our job as a league to build and support those in hockey in Manitoba – just like we do our players – and you’re a Manitoban in hockey.”

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That opportunity led me to new relationships within the league and allowed me to call more games in the MJHL. It’s a gift.

But the true gift has been the time and commitment Kim Davis has given to the MJHL and building junior hockey in our province, including providing a succession plan for the league as he hands the reigns to fellow Manitoban Kevin Saurette.

Well done, gentlemen.

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Le Classique – Jan 29, 2020