Behind the Game: The man with a deep passion for minor hockey in Alberta

Behind the Game: Getting to know Alberta Midget Hockey legend ‘Bobby O’
WATCH ABOVE: Bob Olynyk has been around the rink since the late 1960’s. If you’ve ever been involved with the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League though, you just know him as Bobby O. In this week’s behind the game, Quinn Phillips has more about this Edmonton man’s passion for minor hockey that has kept him involved for five decades.

Anyone who has ever been involved in the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League knows the name Bobby O.

Bob Olynyk, his formal name, started volunteering at rinks in 1966 and has never looked back.

Bobby O has done it all: cleaning the ice surface, to working as a trainer for junior teams, he’s done statistics for the Oilers and Oil Kings and he’s coached.

To this day, he is still involved as a volunteer with the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League.

“All the hours I put in, I’d be a multi-millionaire if I got a dollar an hour” joked Olynyk, who retired from his job at Telus 17 years ago.

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His time specifically with the midget age group started as a coach in 1977. When he moved away from coaching and took a step back from hockey, he says the AMHL asked him to come back. That was the mid-80’s. He’s alternated between president and vice-president of the league ever since.

“I think we have one of the premier leagues in North America,” Olynyk said. “We’ve produced a lot of great hockey players, I mean Jarome Iginla came through this league…. he lit it up as a 15-year-old. That year St. Albert only lost two games all year.

“I’ve seen lots of players, I’ve had lots of fun.”

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Where he takes a lot of pride, is in the scholarship program he helped set up. Winners of the scholarship are given funds to use for post-secondary education.

“We’re close to $900,000 that we’ve just kind of raised,” said Olynyk. “Every team in our league is receiving a $2,500 scholarship annually, and probably this year I’m thinking it’ll probably go to $3,000.”

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