February 10, 2022
The Essex 73’s Junior Hockey Club will be celebrating its 50th Anniversary next season and to kick off the festivities, the 73’s have officially announced they are finally going to pay tribute to those individuals worthy of recognition for their contributions to the organization over the years.
The Essex 73’s Wall of Honour is an idea that first sparked interest nearly 10 years ago, and now, it is a reality.
“Timing is everything in life, and with our 50th anniversary around the corner, we felt now was a great time to finally honour those individuals worthy,” said executive member, Joe Garon. “It’s going to be something special, not only for our organization but for the entire Town of Essex.”
The 73’s executive has formed a third-party selection committee that has been tasked with the duty of establishing a bar for induction to The Wall, as well as determining the criteria that will be needed to narrow down the list of nearly 1,000 names to a reasonable number, yet, meaningful.
“We’re sorting through the nearly 800 players and countless others who have helped make the Essex 73’s the success we are today,” said Garon. “There are a lot of people who have come through this organization over the years, left their mark, and it is going to take an enormous effort to get to the number we need to, no doubt about it.”
The six-person selection committee consists of Garon, who is the chair, Mike Sadler, Scott Miller, Lee Jones, Mike Quinlan and Dave Prpich. All six have either played, coached or managed the 73’s over the years, and represent a good cross-section of members who cover all 50 years.
“We have a strong committee in place and we have the support of the Essex 73’s executive,” said Garon. “We all understand the responsibility that comes with serving on this committee, and we know some of our decision-making processes will be scrutinized, but we all feel confident that in the end, we will have a Wall that everyone will be proud of.”
The first-year induction class will be a large group but The Wall itself will go on in perpetuity and others who are not selected this time around will still have opportunities in the future to be honoured.
“The plan is to have a select number of inductees each year, similar to a baseball Hall of Fame, or a hockey Hall of Fame,” Garon says. “So there’s always next year if you don’t find your favourite player on The Wall this year.”
The Wall of Honour will be displayed just outside the Libro Credit Union Rink main doors and will surround the existing 73’s awards showcase display.
Garon says the selection committee has been working hard behind the scenes since early December and that the process thus far has been enjoyable and fun at times, while trying and difficult at other times. The biggest challenge is being true to the meaning of The Wall.
“We want The Wall to mean something, and there have been so many great players, staff, executives and such come through over the years that it is extremely challenging to narrow the list down, but we are getting there, for sure,” said Garon.
When it comes to the player category, Garon says the key was establishing a ranking system based on all the known information and data available to the committee that would help members identify a player of excellence from a player that was simply really good.”
“It has helped take the guesswork and biases out of the decision making.”
The selection committee has recently completed the nomination process and will be notifying all the successful nominees in advance of announcing the nomination list publicly. After that, they will resume meetings and soon thereafter will have the Wall of Honour induction vote.
“It’s important we make the nominees aware of what we are doing, the process, etc., before we go to the induction vote itself,” says Garon. “Whether they are inducted, or not, they should be proud of the fact they were nominated.”
The 73’s have planned a Wall of Honour Induction Ceremony Weekend scheduled for August 26, 27 and 28 of this year. Details are still in the works but there will be alumni hockey games, a golf outing, an induction ceremony and a dinner banquet and social, all at the Essex Centre Sports Complex and open to the public.
“Many of the inductees have not seen each other in decades, and some may never see each other again in their lifetimes, so this will be a huge event filled with a lot of anticipation, excitement, nervousness and emotions,” says Garon. “The organization has always done things professional and over the top, and I don’t think that will be any different when it comes to this event. This could be easily the biggest event in Essex in quite some time.
Results of the final list of nominees being considered for the Wall of Honour will be announced soon and can be found in your upcoming local newspapers, on the 73’s social media pages or their website www.essex73s.ca.