KINGSTON, Ont. — The Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs recently paid tribute to hometown band The Tragically Hip, while also raising a large sum of money for frontman Gord Downie’s charity.
The Frontenacs announced on Monday that the junior hockey club raised $73,383.98 for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research through an online auction of team jerseys from their 1-0 win over the Mississauga Steelheads on Jan. 28.
The online auction consisted of 23 player-worn or prepared jerseys from the game, as well as a raffle of an additional jersey at the game. Winning bids came from all across Canada, including B.C., Alberta, Ontario and Nova Scotia, and as far away as Hong Kong.
"The grace and generosity by our fans is unbelievable and humbling at the same time," said Justin Chenier, executive director of business operations for the Frontenacs.
"When we unveiled the jersey design and announced this initiative in honour of The Tragically Hip and to support Gord Downie’s fund, we were most often asked how much we thought this auction could raise. Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d be able to present a cheque to Dr. James Perry and the group at Sunnybrook Hospital for over $73,000."
The special jerseys from "The Tragically Hip" tribute night replaced Kingston’s regular team logo with the band’s name in a banner across the chest. The jerseys were also covered in song titles of the band’s biggest hits and included the band name on the tail on the back.
The highest winning jersey bid was $6,290 for the Josh Supryka’s No. 16 jersey, while the No. 60 jersey worn by goaltender Jeremy Helvig brought in $5,120.
Downie revealed last May that he has glioblastoma, an incurable and rare form of brain cancer.
The Hip’s "Man Machine Poem" tour became Canada’s hottest summer ticket last year after Downie’s announcement, and the band’s climactic final show came in Kingston, their hometown, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre.
Formed in 1984, the Hip spent decades travelling the country’s highways and working their way up from playing dive bars to filling arenas. Their perseverance earned a loyal fan base, particularly with working-class Canadians, who made anthems out of the band’s biggest hits like "Ahead by a Century" and "Bobcaygeon."