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Belleville Senators HAVE become A premier franchise in the American Hockey League

     The American Hockey League has arrived in the great hockey city of Belleville, Ontario, and I was delighted to be working for the club in hopes of making it the premier franchise in the AHL from November 1, 2016 to April 30, 2019.

      My role was Vice President of the team, and I was based at the CAA Arena working with the great support staff of the City of Belleville and the Ottawa Senators of the National Hockey League for exactly 30 months, as Belleville and the entire Quinte Region welcomed professional hockey for the first time.

     Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Ottawa Senators, purchased the team in September, 2016, with the club moving to Belleville in time for the 2017-18 AHL season. Mr. Melnyk and the Chief Operating Officer, Rob Mullowney, have already done a lot to make the Belleville Senators the "Green Bay Packers of the AHL" - a small town team with a big city presentation!

     Belleville has always been one of my favorite stops as a visiting broadcaster. It's a community of warm, hard-working people who embraced their OHL team for many years. After the disappointment of losing their junior hockey franchise, their hard work has resulted in getting a team in the second best hockey league in the world - the AHL - for the first time. Everything does indeed happen for a reason!

     It is an exciting time for hockey fans in the Quinte area, despite the fact that the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League were sold and moved to Hamilton in 2015. Since then the city has been working hard to get another team for the rabid hockey fans of the area, and they were successful in helping to bring the top farm team of the Ottawa Senators to town.

     Not only did Belleville get a new professional hockey team, the city also got a completely revamped arena. The end result is a totally modern, state-of-the-art facility that seats 4,300 fans and features private boxes and luxury seating, in addition to affordable seats for hockey fans of all ages!

      I encourage all fans in the area to check out www.bellevillesens.com for all the latest news on the team. You can also follow the team on Twitter @bellevillesens for all the latest news.

     It was a real pleasure to have been the Vice President of the Belleville Senators for 2 1/2 years. Thanks to all the great hockey fans of the Bay of Quinte that helped us make it such a great success! Go Sens Go!!!


ROGER LAJOIE

Former Vice President

Belleville Senators 

      

            40 years.

            On February 1, 1980, I started my career in sports media as a sports writer at the Etobicoke Gazette newspaper. Saturday therefore marks 40 years since my sports media career began.

            40 years!

            I was in my final year at Ryerson when the late, great Bryan Cantley hired me. I went out celebrating the night before with my best friend at school, the incomparable Bruce Archer, and with Rita, my girlfriend at the time, who later became my first wife. (My second and current wife is also named Rita, so please don’t be confused!).

            We must have had a few, because I remember they both took turns calling me the morning after – every 10 minutes!!! - to make sure I was up in time to get to work.

            Wonderful of them to check on me, but I wasn’t going to be late for this opportunity, a little hung over or not. My first story was covering a kids’ basketball league game at a local school, typical community newspaper stuff. Off I went.

            My Sports Editor was Chris Knowles, a very knowledgable guy who insisted on good copy. I handed him my first story a little nervously. I still remember the lede of it - my feature about a little kids’ basketball program:      

            BY ROGER LAJOIE

            Gazette Staff Writer

            Basketball coach Dave Huha has a problem. His team is lacking a big man.

            You see, nobody on his team is over four feet tall.

            My Editor, who was tough to please, read the story. He turned to me with a small smile.

            “Good lede” was all he said. For him that was a MAJOR compliment!

            It was a good lede. And so my career began…and then…and then - 40 years went by.

            40 years!

            At various times I have been a sports reporter, editor, broadcaster, announcer, marketing manager, front office hockey executive, author, teacher and official scorer. I have done everything at one point or another and pardon my indulgence here, but I wanted to list it all in one spot – more for me than for anyone else.

            My stops along the way include (many were done simultaneously):
RADIO

Sportsnet 590 The Fan – Sports Talk Show Host, 27 years, 2 months (still there!)

1350 CKDO Oshawa – Oshawa Generals broadcasts, 6 years

TELEVISION

Sportsnet – Colour commentator CHL Hockey fill-in, 3 years

Rogers TV – Sports Talk Show Host: GOAL LINE 5 years, HOME TEAM 3 years

Rogers TV- OHL Hockey Toronto, Mississauga and Oshawa, 20 years combined

WIRE SERVICES

United Press International – Sports Reporter, 6 years

Thomson Reuters – Sports Reporer, 10 years

NEWSPAPER/MAGAZINES

Oshawa This Week – Sportswriter and Sports Editor, 8 years

Oshawa Times – Sportswriter, 2 years

Durham Post – Editor, 1 year

Sport Times – Editor, 1 year

Etobicoke Gazette – Sportswriter, 1 year

HOCKEY TEAMS & LEAGUES

Ottawa Senators – Editorial Consultant, 1 year (still there!)

Belleville Senators – Vice President, 2 years, 6 months

Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors – Vice President, 1 year

Canadian Hockey League – Director of Information, 2 years

Toronto St. Michael’s Majors – Broadcaster & Game Day, 7 years

Oshawa Generals – Media Consultant, 3 years

Toronto Roadrunners – PA announcer, 1 year

Toronto Marlboros – Business Manager, 5 years

BASEBALL TEAMS & LEAGUES

Major League Baseball – Official Scorer, Toronto Blue Jays, 8 years (still there!)

Toronto Maple Leafs Intercounty – Official Scorer, 35 years

Intercounty Baseball League – Statistician, 3 years

AUTHOR

The Goal of My Life, with Paul Henderson

The Road to Hockeytown, with Jimmy Devellano

Greatest. Day. Ever.

TEACHER

College of Sports Media, 10 years

Ryerson University, 4 years

            I also freelanced at one time or another for: Toronto Sun, Toronto Star, TSN, Sirius XM and the Miami Herald.

            I have achieved all five of the milestones I was shooting for before hitting the four decade mark:

40 year career in sports media (Feb. 1, 2020 is 40th anniversary!)

250 Major Sports Events covered (259 still going!): 17 World Series, 14 Stanley Cups, 13 Super Bowls, 12 Final Fours, 11 NBA Finals, 19 Memorial Cups, 22 Rogers Cups and more
1500 Broadcasts: Includes junior hockey radio and TV, and TV shows (I stopped at 1,500).
3500 Fan Radio Shows (3,550 still going!)
900 Baseball Games Official Scoring (915 still going! – 709 in IBL, 206 in MLB).

            40 years. That’s a long time to work, but for me it wasn’t work. My sports media career has been the love of my life.

            I’ve told my students this story about how much fun my work has been for me. One Sunday a few years ago, I was asked to do a Sunday morning show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan from the Rogers Centre in the radio booth. I was on from 10 am to 12:30 pm, leaving me enough time to grab lunch in the media dining room and then head to the Official Scorers booth, where I would be scoring the Toronto Blue Jays game at 1:07. Perfect.

            I “worked” from 10 to 5 pm that day. Did a radio show, then scored a major league baseball game. What a blast that day was! When I handed in my Official Scorers sheet, I stopped for a minute in the pressbox and looked out at the field. The day was over. But I wanted that day to keep going. I would have done another show and scored another game – but everybody had gone home!

            As I often have over the years, I thought that day about how lucky I am to have done things like this for a living, to have “worked” in sports. Nothing is perfect of course, and there are some bad days, but it’s really been so much fun. Just thinking back on that day and my career on that Sunday evening brought tears to my eyes, honestly. I told my students I stood there misty eyed for a few minutes. They then get misty eyed hearing me talk that way about a career they want to have too.

            Do you love your work friends? I hope you do. But do you know how much I love my work?

            I sometimes cry when there’s no more.

            “The suprerme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” – Arnold Taynbee

            “Work can be more fun than fun.” – Sir Noel Coward

            “The secret of success is making your vocation your vacation.” – Mark Twain

            Thank you Bryan Cantley for hiring me on Feb. 1, 1980. Thanks to everyone who helped me along the way. I will celebrate on Saturday by...what else? Working!

            Eternally grateful for this 40 year run. I’m in the home stretch of it now, and this is likely the last major milestone, but just had to say THANK YOU to everyone who allowed me to have this much fun. My work was more fun than fun!

            40 years.