By Cary Kaplan | February 18, 2021
As the Brampton Beast become the latest in many victims of Covid-19, we want to say how proud we are of what we were able to accomplish and who we were able to touch over the past seven years. We owe a lot of thank you’s, and I apologize for the length of this letter, but all those mentioned (plus many more are deserving). In spite of our successes in our first seven years, we were not overcome what amounted to the COVID global pandemic taking 3 years away from us.
We owe a lot of thank you’s.
Thank you to Gregg Rosen who I met in 2011 at a CWHL hockey game in Kingston, and mentioned that he would like to own a hockey top end pro team. We looked in Albany, Atlanta and PEI over a two year period, but the moment the Brampton Battalion moved to North Bay, we set our sights on Brampton as the perfect spot, as it turned out to be. A few months later, the Brampton Pro Hockey Team was born. Gregg’s family Marla Beth, Samantha, Cody and Ali were all part of the inception of the Beast. Gregg invested millions of dollars into a team that he rarely was able to see live. Without him and his family, this story never begins. Thank you to Lisa and Brendan too @ Kimco
Thank you to Phil Fusco and his family who in 2017 after a call went out for minority partners for the team, many people looked and considered joining, but it was Phil who came to the table and for three seasons of the team became owner, cheerleader, cookie provider, and part time practice goalie. He bonded with staff and players and became a huge part of the franchise. With Phil, the identity of the Beast went to another level.
Thank you to Gurmeet, Karan, Arjun and Sonaa Singh, along with Ashit, Harkirat and Mukesh. This group from India who not only brought the largest Cricket event to Brampton in Canada, jumped in in late 2018 to be the first South Asian owners ever of a pro hockey team. It was truly historic. They joined Gregg and Phil with the intent to bring more Bramptonians, particularly of South Asian descent, out to see the Beast. It would be a great amalgamation between Hockey & Cricket. The vision was well underway.
Three very different owners, but three great groups, with great families who became members of the Beast family.
Thank you to Mike, Bryan, Ken, Steph, Steve, Ainsley, Mallory, Matt, Paul, Rebecca, Sonja, Gavin and all the others who are not mentioned but who were a big part of the start and first 5 years of the Brampton Beast. The team started with no office, no name, no dressing room, no fans, no ticket holders, no sponsors, and further we played in a league (the Central Hockey League and then ECHL) with a limited identity in Canada, and our rivals where in places like Quad City, Allen, Rapid City and Tulsa. The staff worked thousands of long hours, hundreds of games, dozens of evenings, weekends and holidays. They brought great integrity, passion and positive energy to the team and for the fans that won’t be forgotten.
Thank you to the current crew including OC, Evan, Abhinav, Justin, Mike L, Jon, Lauren, Sam, Brook, Anthony, Devon, Katherine, Mitch, Olivia, Ned, Jordan, Mike H, Gavin and Jasween who had to navigate playing hockey, but more strangely not playing great hockey. Following some great momentum in the winter of 2019-20 the season was abruptly shut down with some excellent theme games ahead and great crowds coming in March, April and the playoffs. They worked for a year during COVID without losing their energy, their enthusiasm or their smiles. In spite of no games, and great uncertainty, they kept their heads up, energy in place, and kept the faith that we could get back to hockey one day.
Thank you for Brent Hughes and Mark Desantis for being our first coaches and getting us out of the gate effectively.
Thank you to Colin Chaulk for leading the on ice team for 4 years, the majority of the team’s tenure, giving us two exciting playoff runs, and fostering a culture where players from all over the world looked to Brampton as a destination location. Thank you to Peter Goulet and Freddie Lemay for taking turns as Colin’s right hand men.
Thank you to Spiros Anastas and Duncan Dalmao for the 2019-2020 season in retaining the core team, and adding just the right pieces to make the Beast a team that beat the best in the league and was as good as any when the ECHL came to a halt. No team had a better shot at the Kelly Cup than the Beast prior to the stoppage.
Thank you to Adam Nefsky. He was our Chief Scout since 2013. He has an excellent eye for hockey talent and built a relationship with every coaching staff in our history.
In 7 years, we had in essence 4 playoff runs including three in final four years.
Thank you to Athletic Therapist Tara Gilliland-Smith and Equipment Manager Shawn “Stixy” Smith who were here from day 1. They were as professional in their roles as anyone in the industry. They worked all games home and away for seven years, and proudly represented the Beast. Special thanks as well to all of their assistants through the years who asked for little and provided a lot. Also Brandon and Charlotte deserve recognition for making sure the Beast was a full family affair for the Smiths.
A special thank you to Blake who was our trusted bus driver and took care of our players for several years on the road.
Thank you to Brett Smith for saying he wanted to be the first ever Beast player, and was, and our first ever Captain. Thank you to Pitton, Michel, Vanderveeken, Maione, Howes, Collins, Ling, Thorne, Dale, JBrown, TBrown, MacIsaac, Vernace, Thrower, Rollheiser, Darrigo for being a big part of those first two growth years.
Thank you to Cal Wild for being our Captain for 2 plus years, and more importantly setting an example of what a leader means. Cal was both CHL and ECHL man of the year, and then went on to remain involved with the team, encourage the Beast alumni program and always remained connected to the team.
Thank you to Brandon Marino for being captain for the 4 Chaulk years, and along with Colin establishing a leadership group that would carry the team forward and hold our heads high with professionalism.
Thank to Jordan Henry, David Pacan and David Vallorani for following Marino’s lead and continuing to our final 2020 game with consistent leadership of the franchise. Between the three of them and Brandon, they dominate the Beast record book for accomplishments. All three retired shortly after the season was cut short by COVID.
Thank you to Maclean, Leveille, Traccitto, Auger, Vernace, Blain, Sparks, Auger, Pither, Dagostini, Fucale, Marcoux, Dubeau, Billingsly, Gomes, Bradford, Miller, Melancon, Martenet, Folkes, Corrin, Foster, Leef, Todd, Ciampini, Petgrave, Leavens, Gagnon, Beauchemin, Bakker, Jacklin for being some of the character leaders and character people that proudly wore the Beast crest.
Thank you to Matt Suderman who played with the Beast and was a reliable stay at home defenseman, Matt sadly passed away a few years ago. Matt you are not forgotten as a Beast.
Thank you to the most popular Beast ever, Boomer. Boomer went to thousands of events, school, charities, dance classes, religious events, and never missed a Beast home game. Most importantly Boomer put smiles on the faces of thousands of children, and nearly as many adults over the years. He is a legend. Also special thanks to Boomer’s best friend Mitch.
Thank you to Duane Lewis and the Central Hockey League who welcomed us in 2013 as their only Canadian team before joining the ECHL.
Thank you for Brian McKenna, Ryan Crelin and the entire ECHL for being a well run league. The ECHL has a bright future.
Thank you for Jonas Prince, Brian Soye, Mike Hardcastle, Brandan Macor, Hedayat, Dean, Mark, Susie, Kathy, Mary, Shannon all the ushers, ticket takers, security guards, and the entire CAA Centre team. We have been partners with this arena and facility as the primary tenant for 8 years. We have worked together with the Real Star team on hundreds of games, additional events, and a number of joint partnerships with suite holders, season ticket holders, food and beverage situations and working to best serve out fans. We thank them all for being reliable partners with us for all of this time.
Thank you to the late Johnny Bower for coming to several Beast games and celebrating his 90th birthday with us at centre ice. Johnny to me is the greatest Leaf of all time. Just a great human being.
Thank you to Ron Maclean, Dick Duff, Bob Newin, Bobby Baun, Ric Nattress, Eddie Shack, and all other former NHL who came out to meet and greet the fans, sign a few autographs and share their great stories.
Thank you to Don Cherry. Don was a massive supporter of the Beast, and even bigger supporter of our Kotak Law Remembrance Day games where we wore jerseys that were shown annually on Coaches Corner, and in turn across the country. Don came to several of our games and is a great Canadian patriot.
Thank you to our corporate partners which are too many to name many but a few of the major partners have included CAA, Kotak Law, CMDC, Bell, Molson, PepsiCo, Goodlife, Maple Lodge, Tire World, Gaylea, McDonalds, CN, Reliance and Hydro One, Unifor and Peel Police. Our partners have been truly amazing with promotions, giveaways, contests and prizes. Our sponsors have made our event experience truly awesome.
Thank you to former Brampton City Councillors were there when the Beast were born, paid for a state of the art Videoboard and helped us come to Brampton. Specifically Mayor Susan Fennell for being our champion, and being supported by Councillors Gibson, Moore, Hutton, Paul Palleschi, Sanderson, Callahan, Hames, Miles, Vicky Dhillon and Sprovieri. I will never forget Councillors Moore and Miles passionate speeches which were instrumental for the Beast success.
Thank you to current Mayor Patrick Brown for attending at several Beast games and being a passionate supporter of hockey for decades in Ontario. Mayor Brown was always a welcoming voice at Beast games, and would always make time for us.
Thank you to current Councillors Bowman, Palleschi, Whillans, Fortini and Williams for their unwavering support and attending several Beast games as fans over the years. Thank you to all of them plus Councillors Santos, Vicente, Medeiros, Singh and Dhillon for allowing the Beast to part of the sport fabric of Brampton and for leading Brampton to great things in the years ahead.
Thank you to the Tampa Bay Lightning for being our first NHL affiliate, and in particular Steve Yzerman and Julien Brisebois who welcomed us in our inaugural year. Mr. Yzerman was as classy as one would expect.
Thank you to the Montreal Canadiens, who welcomed myself and Gregg Rosen at the Bell Centre and agreed to work with us. It was an honour to be affiliated with the storied franchise. Vince Riendeau in the ground in Brampton in particular was a pleasure to work with.
Thank you to the Ottawa Senators, Pierre Dorion, Peter MacTavish, Sean McAuley, Korey Cooper and Troy Mann for the past three years where we had some tope level talent that helped us dramatically. Ottawa truly believes in development from within and the Senators have a bright future.
Thank you to my family who joined me and Amelia in Box 105. Mom, Dad, Randy, Abbie, Shane, Jackson, Darryl, Remy, Talya, Lori, Parker, Miles, Louis, George, Adam, Beth, Bertha, Evan K, Jim and Angela who cheered and screamed their hearts out when Brandon Maclean scored in double overtime to win a huge playoff game, or in the heated Growlers-Beast rivalry games got ugly, or Nathan Todd, Scott Howes or David Vallorani scored highlight reel goals, or Etienne Marcoux or Zach Fucale made lights out saves. Just lots of unforgettable fun!
Thank you to my wife Amelia for working with me in hockey and sports since we met in 1996 (all of our coaches called her the ‘real GM’, so she had a big role in all respects). I am Amelia’s biggest fan, and without her, this experience would be meaningless. I love you Amelia.
Thank you to 680,000 fans, yes 680,000 fans who attended Beast games over the years, fans who dressed up for Star Wars Day, Marvel Day and Valentine’s Day Games, fans who suffered when the team struggled and celebrated when the team won. Fans who sang and danced every game, fans who chanted Go Beast Go, fans who watched our laser show, and opening ceremony, fans who caught t-shirts and hotdogs in the crowd (yes Hot Dogs!), fans who won Big Macs when we scored six and fans who purchased jerseys in our live auction fans some 30,000 who filled up four school days a year, fans who slept over with guides and scouts, fans from hundreds of schools, hundreds of recreations groups, hundreds of charities and thousands of hockey teams. Thank every single one of you, as we worked for the Fans, and without you there would be no Beast.
Thank you overall to everyone who ever worked on Brampton Beast game day entertainment, if you never were part of the fun at our games, you missed out.
Thank you to anyone else who was a part of the Beast – and if I forgot to mention you – my apologies.
Thank you to my lucky charm black fedora which reminded me of the history of hockey and how lucky I was to have that job.
Thank you for allowing me to be the president & general manager of this team. It has been a great honour.
I remain hopeful & optimistic that hockey at a high level will one day return to the great City of Brampton. I believe in Brampton.
President & General Manager
Brampton Beast Hockey Club