Once A King, Always A King

Hockey being on hold for the past year and a half wasn’t how the Elmira Sugar Kings had hoped to lead into their 50th anniversary season, but they’ve been busy off the ice preparing to mark the milestone. Now, a book detailing the club’s history is available.

Once a King Always a King not only delves into the team’s past, but looks to the future as a fundraiser for the Junior B hockey club.

“It’s been a tough go with COVID. A community-run team is only as good as its fans and sponsors,” said Sugar Kings vice-president Scott Basler. “It’s hard to just go out and ask for money. This way, we thought we could at least give people something for their money, and do it as a fundraiser.”

“The money will all go back to the team,” added Basler.

The book recounts the team’s history through the eyes of its players and coaches, past and present. From the club’s beginnings in 1971 to the Sutherland Cup wins, the players and the community have been through it all.

“Everybody’s got a cool story about how they made it to the Kings, and then what happened after,” said Basler. “So [we] just kind of touched base with a lot of them and got it all down on paper, and it all just kind of came together.”

One family that will no doubt have a prominent role in the book will be the Snyder family. With Graham Snyder being on the inaugural team and later becoming general manager for a number of years, as well as his brother Jeff Snyder leading the Kings to their first Sutherland Cup win, the Kings are like a part of the Snyder family.

“I think the organization has probably only gotten stronger over the years,” said Graham Snyder. “The volunteer aspect of it has, has really, really grown and solidified.”

He noted that the book will serve as a great way for fans to learn about the history of the team and how important the Elmira community is to its success.

“It would help [readers] get a better understanding of how the team came to be, and about the community ownership of the team,” said Snyder. “Most other junior hockey teams in Ontario are privately owned.”

The sense of community is a theme that comes up a lot when talking with former Sugar Kings players, and Kyle Grundy is no exception. Having played five years for the Kings, Grundy was a team captain both on and off the ice.

“It was a great experience being part of a team that is in a small community. I was born and raised in Elmira,” said Grundy. “Having the community that supported us as much as it did – I enjoyed it immensely.”

Between running his business and four kids at home, Grundy hasn’t had all that much free time to dedicate towards the Kings, but he still manages to find some time to play a pick-up game with some friends.

“I still love going to the rink and putting my skates on and playing with my buddies,” said Grundy. “It’s a lot of fun, because we all know each other, we all compete hard and probably compete harder being as we all know each other.”

Stories of a life-long love of hockey will no doubt be prevalent in the book. The past players and coaches that have donned the green and yellow jerseys will surprise readers with where they have ended up.

“Whether you’re a recent fan or somebody that’s been there from the beginning, chances are you’re going to know a few of these people in the book,” said Basler. “And if you don’t know there’s lots of names that you might recognize that have gone on to the NHL.”

Once a King Always a King is being sold by the kings for $20, those interested in ordering a copy should reach out to Basler through his email at coachscottb@outlook.com.

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