With a pair of World Junior Hockey Championships pre-tournament games taking place in Port Alberni, members of the local World Junior Committee took the opportunity to present a piece of local history.
Paul Cyr was the only Port Alberni hockey player to ever play in a World Junior tournament. His story started with Canada’s 1982 world junior hockey team.
Historically, the Memorial Cup winner represented Canada at the World Juniors. But after a few years of disappointing losses, Hockey Canada changed the format, recruiting the top talent in junior hockey. They invited 31 players to a summer camp in Kingston, Ontario ahead of the December tournament, but only 21 showed up. Many major junior teams refused to release their players, and others were injured.
“There was a call-up, a guy from Port Alberni,” explained World Junior Committee member Darren DeLuca. “During that tournament, he scored four goals, got six assists in 10 games, and Canada won the first gold medal in 20 years.”
Cyr was subsequently drafted ninth overall in the NHL entry draft by Scott Bowman and the Buffalo Sabres. He played in 470 NHL games with the Sabres, the New York Rangers and the Hartford Whalers before retiring in 1993.
Cyr died of heart failure in 2012, and his family donated one of his game-worn jerseys to the Port Alberni Junior Hockey Society.
“We didn’t really present it right,” DeLuca admitted.
With the World Juniors coming to Port Alberni, DeLuca decided it was the perfect time to present the jersey. The jersey has been put on display in a box frame by L7 Framing. The wear and tear of an NHL career is visible, with stitches and puck marks preserved.
“We’re very grateful to have it,” DeLuca said. “To all the players here, if you ever make the show and you’ve got a game-worn jersey, we’ve got a spot on the wall for you.”
There is more to Cyr’s World Junior story. According to World Junior committee member Ron Paulson, Cyr’s home in Port Alberni burned down while he was enjoying his retirement.
“He had a World Junior Championship gold medal and he was deathly afraid that he had lost the gold medal in the fire,” Paulson explained.
But the gold medal had actually been placed inside a closed book. Although the lanyard it was attached to had burned, the gold medal survived. Cyr’s family still holds onto the medal to this day.