COLUMN: Quite the ride for player and arena

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The grand old lady on top of the hill received the royal send off it so richly deserved with the annual Terence Tootoo Memorial (TTM) senior’s men’s tournament moving to two divisions for the first time and the event producing some magnificent hockey throughout its five-day run.
That coupled with hometown hero and ex-NHLer Jordin Tootoo returning to play in the event that carries the name of his brother, Terence, made Rankin Inlet a very special place to be from March 13 to 17 this year.
Jordin’s work with Indigenous youth and communities since his retirement has not gone unnoticed in his home community, where he has always put in the time and effort to make himself available for speaking engagements and to spend time with the throngs of admiring kids who shine in his presence.
There are precious few things in Rankin Inlet that don’t bear Jordin’s autograph since his run in the NHL first began and his autographed memorabilia is kindly donated by his family to a number of fundraising events throughout the year.
Jordin took the time to visit students at all three Rankin schools during his time home and his acceptance of an invitation to visit with those currently residing at the Rankin Inlet Healing Facility showed class, humility, caring and maturity – personal traits not always exhibited by those who have spent the majority of their lives as professional athletes.
Despite Jordin’s time in the south, including almost every major city in Canada and the United States, he remains keenly aware of what matters in his hometown, a fact further driven home by his picking-up the tab for every ticket issued on the TTM’s first day of action.
Arguably nowhere in this country is there a quicker path to the heart of a community than to supply free tickets for a day’s worth of action in one of the biggest tournaments of the year than Rankin (Hockey Town) Inlet.
Hopefully, there were quite a few who saw the action that evening who normally wouldn’t have had the opportunity.
And, there can be no denying how special it was to have Jordin play in this year’s TTM, even if the Miners were, arguably, a little top heavy in overall talent.
There were quite a few players – assigned the improbable task of having to somehow beat the Miners to claim A Division glory at this year’s event – who said it was fun and exciting (even an honour) to get to play against Jordin.
This corner is willing to bet there were very few, if any, players in the B Division who didn’t take in at least one Miners game to see a former NHLer display his skills on the ice.
In fact, having Jordin here to play in the TTM – combined with the rabid and hockey-savvy Rankin Inlet fans and the electric atmosphere being inside the grand old lady on the hill always provides – proved itself to be the perfect correlation of ingredients to provide the community with a very memorable and exciting event to bring down the official hockey curtain on the old Rankin Inlet arena.
Perhaps it was only fitting for Jordin to return to an arena where he and Terence spent so much time as hockey-loving kids and help send the grand old lady off for the final time with her head held high.
To borrow a line from Jordin for the old gal – “It was quite the ride!”