Three days before the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup tournament was scheduled to begin, a local decorated military veteran was denied an honour that had been committed to him only days earlier.
Bob Kelly, who served with the First Batallion of the Royal Canadian Regiment Special Forces in the 1950s, was told early last week that plans to have him attend the pre-tournament parade with the Cup and later present it to the championship team was scheduled to proceed as planned. At 11 p.m. on the evening of Monday, May 15, his home received a phone call from the same organizing committee member that said the plan was still “a go” about a week earlier, asking him and his wife Shirley Affleck to attend a meeting at the Tim Hortons restaurant at Devonshire Mall on Tuesday morning. There, with only the committee member, Kelly and Affleck in attendance, the Staples-area couple was told that Kelly would no longer be involved with the presentation of the Memorial Cup.
“Hopefully after it’s all over, there’ll be time to discuss this,” said Kelly’s wife. “I think we’re owed an explanation and some answers. None of this makes any sense to us.”
Initial requests for information as to why Kelly was being denied an honour that he was told he would carry out only days earlier were met only with an explanation that there had been changes made to the tournament’s administration. Affleck described the committee member who broke the news to them as a credible source who was not happy to deliver the message.
“Bob’s very disappointed, and so is the fellow who had to tell us,” she explained while requesting the committee member’s anonymity.
As of the afternoon of Tuesday, May 16, Bob and Shirley had no other information on the sudden change of plans, aside from being told that the Memorial Cup committee gathered for an ‘emergency meeting’ that took place only hours before the phone call they received that night. When the couple asked if an answer would be provided to them at a later date, they were told ‘yes’, but don’t expect to be offered any information until after the tournament had ended.
The local couple was not told why an administration change had been made or who was placed in charge of the May 18 parade and presentation arrangements for the championship game on Sunday, May 28 at Windsor’s WFCU Centre. The only part of the Memorial Cup tournament that will proceed as scheduled for Bob and Shirley is an afternoon luncheon with the Windsor Spitfires, also on May 18. The couple was also denied information regarding who was replacing Kelly to accompany the Cup during the parade and present it to the winning team. The Memorial Cup tournament was planned with a military theme and was originally created in honour of Canada’s armed forces.
“That’s what we’re confused about,” said Affleck. “The Memorial Cup was designed with veterans in mind.”