Stratford, Ont., to host Hockey Day In Canada

CBC Sports confirmed Tuesday that the puck will drop on Tim Horton's Hockey Day In Canada from Stratford, Ont., on Jan. 30, 2010.

CBC Sports confirmed Tuesday that the puck will drop on Tim Horton's Hockey Day In Canada from Stratford, Ont., on Jan. 30, 2010.

Hockey Day In Canada celebrates Canada's fascination with and passion for hockey, and the picturesque southwestern Ontario community, known worldwide for the renowned Stratford Festival, will prove the ideal venue to spotlight sports theatre at its finest.

"Stratford will provide a beautiful backdrop for our 10th edition of Tim Horton's Hockey Day In Canada," said Joel Darling, who is director of production for CBC Sports. "Stratford's history of hockey and their vibrant community will help celebrate what has become a Canadian tradition over the past decade."

The 10th broadcast of Hockey Day In Canada will be hosted by Ron MacLean from Allman Arena, beginning at noon ET, and feature Don Cherry in a prominent role.

The program is a mammoth undertaking, running 13½ hours and highlighted by an NHL triple-header featuring Canada's six teams. 

It also represents a sizeable commitment from the community of Stratford, a charming Victorian city of 30,000 nestled in the countryside beyond cosmopolitan Toronto.

"We're a small, rural community in the county of Perth and I think, when you couple that with the cosmopolitan nature of having the largest theatre in the country — the Stratford Festival — with our great hockey history, we embody all elements of what the Canadian psyche is about," Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson told

Two of Stratford's most famous denizens are Peter Mansbridge, host of CBC's The National, and Tim Taylor, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with Detroit (1997) and Tampa Bay (2004).

Mansbridge is the honourary chairman of Hockey Day In Canada, while Taylor is co-chair of Stratford's Hockey Day organizing committee (with Mayor Mathieson).

"We want to take Hockey Day to a new level — that is our goal," Taylor said, noting that 300 volunteers have signed up in Stratford. "We understand we're one of the biggest cities it has ever gone to and we're excited about it."

Stratford's hockey roots extend back to the late Howie Morenz, nicknamed the Stratford Streak, to current NHL defencemen Rob Blake and Chris Pronger, both of whom suited up for the junior-B Stratford Cullitons.

"We get to show off all the great people we have in Stratford, and all the people that have touched our lives in the hockey world that have come through [the city]," said Taylor, who also played for the Cullitons.

"We want to create it more as a regional party," noted Mathieson, who attended Hockey Day In Canada in Nelson, B.C., in 2007.

"We're going to head into the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] and as far south as Windsor, Sarnia and Owen Sound. We believe the whole southwest region of Ontario should help us celebrate with this day."

"They're probably not aware that Perth County has more economic output from agriculture in a year than six of the 10 provinces in the country or that we have a large Mennonite-Amish settlement fifteen minutes to the north of our community," he said.

Hockey Day In Canada will profile the significance of hockey in communities across the country, with former NHLers and popular CBC personalities making guest appearances on the program.

Stratford will host an NHL alumni game as part of a week of festitivities leading up to the Hockey Day In Canada broadcast, to be shown on CBC Television and streamed live and on-demand at  

A winner of three Gemini Awards, including best sports program in 2004, Hockey Day In Canada was previously hosted by Toronto (2000); Red Deer, Alta. (2001); Windsor, N.S. (2002); Iqualuit, Nunavut (2003); Shaunavon, Sask. (2004); Stephenville, Nfld. (2006); Nelson, B.C. (2007); Winkler, Man. (2008); and Campbellton, N.B. (2009).