Wednesday, December 09, 2015


A Most Fitting Tribute

Last Friday night, Steve Molaski’s hockey jersey was retired at the Constantine Arena on the campus of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. With a large group of family and friends in the stands, Molaski watched the ceremony from centre ice as the # 23 was revealed on the wall at the arena. It is the first time that a number has been retired at the school.

Long-time hockey fans in the area followed Molaski’s career from minor hockey through to his days at RMC. He played all of his minor hockey in Belleville, most of it at the highest level. That would include weekend trips up and down the 401 to face familiar foes in Kingston, Trenton, Cobourg, and the like. One of those rivals was Doug Gilmour.

Gilmour attended the pre-game ceremonies, and enjoyed the accolades received by Molaski. Following their minor hockey days, they played together on the Cornwall Royals, winning a Memorial Cup along the way. Gilmour had graduated from the Tier Two Belleville Bulls, while Molaski was a 13th round choice to play in Cornwall.

Gilmour was a strapping 145 pounds at the time, perhaps six inches shorter than Molaski. Steve tipped the scales at almost 200 pounds. You get the picture. Gilmour was a sniper, and Molaski had his back. There were many trips deep into the province of Quebec that provided the venue for fireworks. It was a time of political ferment in the province, and the Royals played the entire season in the Quebec League.

During the 1981-82 season, the Royals played in Sherbrooke. At one stoppage in play, Gerard Gallant wanted a piece of Gilmour. Molaski was on the ice to keep Gallant at bay, and stood toe to toe with the Sherbrooke forward. Molaski recalled: “He was a giant, most intimidating. Gilmour snuck up behind me, and speared Gallant through my legs. The benches emptied instantly.”

Following his hockey days at RMC, Molaski coached minor hockey, at a variety of levels. In his remarks, Molaski paid tribute to Gilmour. “Whenever Doug’s team was playing near where I was stationed, he would come out to our practices, or to our games. The kids were always thrilled to meet him”.

Molaski scored 205 points in his career at RMC, a record that stands to this day. For Steve, however, the hockey was just part of his life with the military. He is currently at National Defense Headquarters in Ottawa, having served in Bosnia, in Kosovo, and, on two separate occasions, in Afghanistan. He has risen to become a lieutenant colonel in the Canadian Armed Forces.

Steve was given the floor on a couple of separate occasions Friday night. Certain themes kept surfacing during his speeches. He realized early that in order to achieve results, he needed to show a little grit. He supplied plenty of that in everything he did. He also talked about the importance of “raising the bar”, never being satisfied with minimal accomplishments.

Steve appreciated the fact that family, friends, and hockey buddies were able to share the experience with him. “It was a fantastic and eventful evening for me.” He paid tribute to all of his coaches, his family, and his teammates. But when it came down to it, so much has been accomplished by the man himself. He fought through serious injury on several occasions, and persevered to gain success.

A fine brother-in-law, I might add.

James Hurst
December 8, 2015.

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