The organizing committee behind the annual John Reid Memorial minor hockey tournament has stepped down from planning this season's event.
The John Reid Memorial Tournament is an annual U15 AAA competition in St. Albert. Of the previous 43 tournaments, the past 15 have been called the JRMT; the tournament's namesake died in 2003 at the age of 41 due to leukemia. Reid was a St. Albert resident and minor hockey coach, and his two sons, Brady and Casey, both played minor hockey in St. Albert.
In a statement posted to the JRMT website and social media accounts on Friday, Aug. 19, the committee wrote that "discussions with St. Albert Minor Hockey Association (SAMHA) Executive have made it abundantly clear that collaboration between the two entities will not be possible."
"The John Reid Memorial has been regarded as one of the top U15 AAA tournaments in North America," the statement reads. "This was due in a large part to the independence the JRMT committee was granted to run an event, free of bureaucracy, politics, and personal agendas."
In an email to The Gazette, organizing committee chairperson Trudy Kueber said the committee had 12 members, but declined to identify the 11 other members.
"Despite the JRMT’s attempts to work with SAMHA executive, it was clear that SAMHA was unhappy with the way the JRMT had been run in recent years, did not trust the JRMT committee to execute an event that would benefit both the participants and community of St. Albert, and demanded control over all aspects of the event," the statement says.
"Rather than embark on a doomed relationship — which would almost certainly harm the legacy that the JRMT has created — the committee has made the difficult choice to step aside, to allow SAMHA to put on a U15AAA tournament, as they see fit."
Kueber declined to specify how SAMHA demanded control of the event.
"After lengthy discussions with the SAMHA executive, it became obvious that the previous independence given to the committee, which allowed it to put on the best event for the athletes and community, would no longer exist," Kueber said in the email.
"The committee felt that SAMHA lacked transparency in its dealings with us. As a result, a very difficult decision was made," Kueber said.
In an email to The Gazette on Aug. 22, SAMHA's executive director, Jane Sedo, said the committee's announcement came as a surprise.
"[SAMHA] and the Raiders Hockey Committee were very surprised to learn through social media on Friday that the [JRMT] organizing committee will no longer be involved with the tournament," Sedo said.
"The committee has supported the tournament for almost 15 years and has done a tremendous job hosting this tournament in our community."
SAMHA does not know who the committee's members were, as a request sent to the committee on July 12 asking for a list of names went unanswered, Sedo said.
A U15 AAA tournament hosted in St. Albert will still happen, Sedo said, as the City of St. Albert and Hockey Alberta have granted a permit for the tournament to take place Jan. 19-22, 2023.
Kueber confirmed that "several" teams had already applied to play in the tournament before the committee made its announcement.
"The JRMT has a rich history in our community and has been a part of our program for 44 years; we look forward to continuing this," Sedo said. "Over the next month a new organizing committee will be formed to run the tournament."
It remains to be seen whether January's tournament will be called the John Reid Memorial Tournament.
"We are speaking with the family, and it's our number one priority to honour the incredible contribution that John made to the hockey community, and to ensure the tournament continues in his name," Sedo said.
Reid's son Brady, 31, said in a tweet on Aug. 19: "My dad was about community and the kids. SAMHA has wanted to turn this thing into a cash cow is wrong [sic]."
"Lack of leadership from the SAMHA board. This doesn't represent John Reid," Brady said in the tweet.
Kueber confirmed that the John Reid Memorial Scholarship will continue, and the scholarship amount is being increased to $2,500 this year.