The city of Oshawa has always been a sports city, but there’s been one team over the years that has been able to capture the hearts and attention of people across the city, the Oshawa Generals.
The Generals hockey club has had a powerful connection with the people of Oshawa since becoming a franchise in 1937.
Whether it’s attending a local school, hospital, community or charitable event, it’s never difficult to spot Generals players around town. There’s also no shortage of autographs given out by the players, considering all the autographed jerseys worn on game nights around the Tribute Communities Centre.
“This is a way of life for some people because it’s their friends and the only time they see each other is at the games,”
says season ticket holder Haimish Bruce, who says he chooses to watch the Generals over the Maple Leafs when the two coincide.
For all the work the Generals do in the community, they are rewarded with the support of fans who pack the TCC for each home game.
The Generals have finished top six each year in Ontario Hockey League attendance since moving into the downtown arena, and top three in the league each of the past three seasons, according to Hockeydb.
“The fans are really important,” says Generals captain, Joe Manchurek. “It’s a lot different if you’re playing at an arena with barely any fans. Our fan base packs the rink every night and it creates a good atmosphere.”
The franchise has been in Oshawa longer than many of its residents. No matter what happens in Oshawa or what issues the people face, they have always had their traditional Sunday nights with the Generals to look forward to before the work week begins.
Generals fans have also become accustom to watching their team play in April, when they begin their march towards the Memorial Cup, winning it five times in franchise history and most recently in 2015.
With NHL legends and Hall of Famers such as Bobby Orr and Eric Lindros beginning their junior careers in Oshawa, the older generation of fans had a great crop of talent to watch at the old Oshawa Civic Auditorium.
The Generals continued to provide fans with exciting hockey after moving over to the, then, Generals Motors Centre in 2006 with current NHL players such as John Tavares, Michael Del Zotto and Calvin De Haan.
With players like these coming through system, along with 175 other Generals graduates who ended up in the NHL, there’s a reason Generals fans have supported this team for more than 80 years.
Now called the Tribute Communities Centre, the building has become the epitome of hockey in the Durham Region.
Young hockey players from Oshawa and surrounding areas grow up with dreams and visions of stepping on the ice at the TCC donning the red, white and blue.
“When you find a young person in Oshawa and ask them who they want to play for someday, I think half the time you’ll probably hear the Generals before you hear an NHL team,”
says the mayor of Oshawa, John Henry.
The Generals represent the past, present and future for many people in Oshawa. Whether it’s the hope of playing for the team one day, or just the thought of returning to the arena for many years to come, the Generals make it difficult for fans walk away and not return.
Jim Grieve, father of Memorial Cup winning players Brent and Brian Grieve, said, “Once a General, always a General.”