Anyone that knows my wife and myself, or any of our long-term clients, know exactly how we feel about our beloved local OHL major junior hockey team the Belleville Bulls. Unless you have been living in the woods somewhere you will know that they are leaving Belleville and being moved to Hamilton. I do not want to get involved in the debate about who is responsible for this, I have my own opinion on that and it will stay mine. I just want to let the boys know how much we will miss them, the coaches and the support staff and everyone associated with the team as well, including the owner Gord Simmonds and his wife Sharon who have become our friends. This includes the families of the boys we have helped to billet for try-outs over the last few years. We will miss you all.
My wife and I, and a whole lot of other people, are devastated by this turn of events. We have been attending Bulls games for almost 2 decades and been a business supporter of them for a number of years now. My wife has volunteered many hours assisting the players in attending their community functions, we have supported a number of charities through the Bulls’ fund-raisers and we have been blessed to have a few players stay at our house for try-out camps. Our Saturday evenings (and many Wednesday evenings) through the winter months have involved dinner out together in Belleville and a Bulls game for over 10 years now. Next winter is going to seem very empty for us.
The impact on the community has yet to materialize but rest assured it will be far greater than some people believe. The Bulls have been a major part of the fabric of this area for over 30 years now. Young children attending the games with dreams of stardom, school children seeing the shining positive examples set by these young men, local charities that have benefitted mightily from their efforts, Belleville Minor Hockey which has received tens of thousands of dollars extra from 50-50 ticket sales every single year all will be impacted. The BGH which has received well over $100,000 from the Bulls over the last few years from fund-raisers like the jersey auctions, the Military Family Resource Center, Heart & Stroke Foundation, and the dozens of smaller charities that have benefitted from the Bulls’ efforts all will be impacted. The list is very long and also includes the Humane Society and other animal charities like Fixed Fur Life.
My wife and I will be attending all of the final games and cheering loudly for “our boys” (and I might yell at a ref or two if they deserve it). We will be driving to Oshawa to watch their final league game and we will be at every single playoff game the boys play, proudly wearing our team jerseys. Some of our time will be spent saying goodbye to other season ticket holders we have befriended and may never see again. Our final auctioned game-worn jersey will be framed and put in our lobby as we once again proudly supported the BGH at the last jersey auction where the Bulls raised over $60,000 for cancer at the BGH.
We wish the team all of the very best and hope that they achieve success in Hamilton. We hope that the staff and support people for the team can find new jobs in Hamilton or here in Belleville. We hope to see some of “our boys” continue in their chosen careers and succeed in the major hockey leagues.
Goodbye to all of you, we will miss you all terribly…
Mike Steen, DVM