There are few things John Tortorella loves as much as hiking.
On an off day away from the hockey rink, like this past Friday for example, he'll often take a stroll with his wife and dogs and get lost in nature and tranquility.
On this particular Friday Torts was alone on an adventure that took him in and around tall trees and near a marsh, as twigs and leaves crinkled and crunched under his feet, with the warm sun beating down and mountains in the backdrop.
Not even a tee shot gone wayyyyyyy left could ruffle Torts' feathers when the journey to find his ball was so sublime.
"I stink at golf, there's not much else to say about it," smiled the new Canucks head coach. "I'd rather be hiking, I'd always rather be hiking, but this is for charity, the weather is great and we're having a lot of fun.”
Tortorella and the Canucks competed in the 30th annual Canucks for Kids Fund Jake Milford Canucks Charity Invitational Golf Tournament, presented by Endeavour Silver, on Friday, September 20th at the Northview Golf and Country Club in Surrey, BC.
To clarify, ‘competes’ is a bit of a stretch for Tortorella, who is a once or twice a year golfer and usually only when a charity is involved.
That being said, the 55-year-old Boston native can swing a club with authority and is a better golfer than he gives himself credit for. If he was frustrated with his game during the ‘Jake,’ he didn’t let it show, and his foursome, including Bradford Cooke, Matthew Dugae and Sam Lee, finished with a decent score of 15-under.
The winning foursome was that of Ryan Kesler and Team IBM, namely Colin Brown, Scott Hardy and Steven Johnstone, who shot a 34-under (net two best ball shamble score) – but the real winners from the event are the Canucks for Kids Fund and the BC Hockey Benevolent Society.
The Canucks are proudly projecting a net profit this year of more than $175K.
That’s going to bring a lot of smiles to a lot of people in need of them.
Speaking of smiles, with this being the 30th edition of the storied golf tournament, there were far more grins and smirks than usual on both the Ridge and Canal courses.
One of the biggest belonged to Norm Jewison.
The former Canucks public relations director, who worked for the team for more than 30 years beginning in 1977, helped create the Jake Milford Tournament in 1984. He was the first chairman and held the position for 25 years; Jewison said the original mandate with the tournament was to combine the great games of golf and hockey and he’s proud of what the event has become.
“It went from a very small, intimate event, to what you see today, which is a major fundraiser for charity,” said Jewison. “We had the characters in the old days, the tournament used to go over two days and the first night was a friendly Calcutta at the old centre ice club, and that would go on until the wee hours of the morning. That’s the way things were in those days.”
For Jewison, the tournament is as much about walking the fairways as it is walking down memory lane – although walking to the event registration table proved a tall task in itself.
“I parked right over there and I’ve only made it this far,” he laughed. “It’s great to revisit some of my old compadres, the Cesare Maniagos of the world that have been here for a long time.
“There’s a lot of history here. I’m just very happy and proud to be here and it’s nice to see that it is alive and it’s recognized as one of the premiere golfing event in the lower mainland for sure.”
As for Tortorella, you can bet the next time he’s out exploring beautiful British Columbia, it won’t be in search of his ball.
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