Johnson pays tribute to Cup founder

Darrell Cole
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SPRINGHILL  When Don Johnson was first approached with the concept of holding an Atlantic Junior B hockey championship he didnt know if the idea would fly.

Im really surprised that it has kept going because in all fairness its Junior B, Johnson said. Like everything else, people dont mind getting involved with the top level, like major junior or Junior A, but Junior B seems to fit certain towns, like Springhill, and theres a niche for it.

It was Prince Edward Island farmer Robert Cousins who came up with the idea of hosting the first Atlantic championship in Kensington, P.E.I. in 1982. He ran the towns Junior B franchise and wanted to put it up against the best teams from the Atlantic region.

It wasnt an easy thing to do since hockey associations in the region were skeptical at first, if not opposed to the idea. But he persisted and eventually won approval to hold the tournament.

Johnson remembers when Cousins phoned him to ask if he could name a trophy in his honour. It was a trophy he would later present to his son after the first tournament, won by the St. Johns Brother Rice Junior Celtics.

He (Cousins) looked up the CAHA records and the only name in Atlantic Canada he could find was mine. When he asked me I said, Robert, youve made my day, Johnson said. Really I only thought it would last a year or two, but it has continued. If it werent for Robert it wouldnt have happened.

Cousins, who was supposed to attend this years tournament, passed away earlier this year. He will be honoured later this week by the Don Johnson Cup host committee and theres a possibility one of the events major awards could be named in his honour. Johnson feels its fitting for Cousins to be honoured since theres be no tournament if not for his vision.

As this thing grew I started to think that this tournaments good for me, but its really about Robert because it was him who had the dream, Johnson said. This is Robert Cousins dream, he just happened to put my name on it.

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, Prince Edward Island, Kensington

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