Once again I had the pleasure of attending the NHL Alumni’s Gala Awards ceremony in Toronto at the Marriot Hotel.
Bryan Trottier received the Keith Magnuson “Man of the Year” award
Walter Gretzky received the Keith McCreary “7th Man” award
Mark Mannarn received the Ace Bailey “Award of Courage” for his efforts in cancer research.
And, each of these stand-up guys received a portrait painting by me.
For the past month I have been a man on a mission – painting at all hours of my spare time though the day and well into the night. Usually it takes me roughly two-plus weeks to complete a painting to my satisfaction… but I only had two to four days to complete each of these paintings while also fulfilling other obligations! Many classic rock albums were listened to, and many TV series were playing in the background to help keep fueled and running as I raced to complete the paintings for the awards ceremony. It was a very tough effort, but it was well worth the lack of sleep. The best part of the whole project was that we planned to keep them a complete secret to the award winners of the nights event.
This was my second time being invited to the NHL Alumni Gala Awards. Unfortunately, I’ve sold all of the paintings that I’ve created over the past year and I had nothing new to bring. To make up for this, I offered to produce the three portraits as a special gift. Wendy McCreary, the nights brilliant organizer, thought it would be a great idea. There is just something ‘special’ about being depicted in a painting.
Once again my “Hockey’s Masked Men” series of iconic goalie mask oil paintings were set up on display at the entrance of the Marriots Grand-Ballroom. As people walked into the Cocktail Reception, waiting to enter into the Ballroom, they would make their way past my artwork. However, this marked the first time that I wasn’t present to talk with people about my artwork. Instead, I was dashed away into the B.C. room to go over a dress rehearsal of for the nights agenda. Tonight, I was given the opportunity to walk in alongside all of the NHL Alumni members and present the portrait paintings to the award winners on stage! What an honour to be in the same room and share the space on stage and be a part of the celebration with these men.
Once the 600 members of the audience took their seats we were lead into the ballroom by a line of bagpipe-pipers and drummers. We all took our positions on stage as one big mass and looked out into the reception. Lights, camera’s, and all of the attention was focused on us. It was thrilling! We would all take our seats and the speeches would begin. I was called to stage by Paul Coffey to present the paintings to Bryan, Walter, and Mark. The food was great too!
We spent the rest of the night walking around the room shaking hands and listening intently to stories of the alumni players from their glory days. Lanny McDonald spoke of celebrating the reunion of his Stanley Cup winning teammates and how they surprised everyone by bringing the Stanley Cup along. He said that it doesn’t matter how old the players are, that they all turned back into school-boys at the sight of the Cup as though they were back in their prime dreaming of it’s glory.
Thank you for everyone that kindly spoke to me and showed their appreciation for my artwork. And, thank you to Wendy McCreary and Deborah Sittler to inviting me back to this great event once again.