No matter how far your career takes you– there is just something about coming home and being recognized by a hometown crowd that makes hard work and sacrifice worthwhile.
On Saturday, November 17th, Jason Holland was recognized as the Sturgeon Hockey Club’s first inductee to the Hockey Walk of Fame, inside the town’s newly constructed Morinville Leisure Centre.
With the Morinville Jets and St. Albert Merchant’s teams lined up on the blue line, Jason walked out onto the ice with a wave to the crowd as the Sturgeon Hockey Club unveiled a banner recognizing Holland’s lengthy hockey career.
“It was a real honour to be back in Morinville and to be recognized,” says Holland. It was unexpected but a really nice gesture. I have so many memories with Morinville Minor Hockey. It’s where it all started for me. I met life-long hockey friends in my time playing in Morinville and St. Albert and so coming home is a real honour for me.”
Growing up in the town of Morinville, Jason Holland loved sport. He loved the physical aspect of hockey and trained hard on and off the ice.
After playing four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Kamloops Blazers, winning the CHL Memorial Cup in 1994 and 1995, and playing for the victorious Canadian team at the 1996 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, Holland made his professional debut in the American Hockey League with the Kentucky Thoroughblades and then made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders.
During the 1997–98 season, Holland was traded to the Buffalo Sabres. After three-plus seasons with the Sabres organization. Holland joined the Los Angeles Kings.
From 2005 – 2012 Holland played in Germany in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga League before retiring from professional hockey in 2012. In all, Holland played 81 games in the NHL and over 1000 games in professional hockey.
“I was so happy when I heard minor hockey wanted to introduce the Hockey Walk of Fame,” says Barry Turner, the Mayor of Morinville. “I think it is really important for our community to recognize those that have gone on and done great things and Jason is a perfect fit for that. I’m happy to be here today and join the community it recognizing all his tremendous success.”
Watching from the sidelines, was his wife and business partner Kerri-lyn Holland and their children Max and Grace.
“We’re so proud of Dad, aren’t we?” Kerri-lyn asks her daughter Grace. “This means a lot to him. Jason still comes home to Morinville to visit and he’s still very much connected to the community. This is very special to him and to our family,” says Kerri-lyn Holland.
Also in the crowd, Holland’s extended family as well as families of young players who only know Jason as Coach!
Renee Kim whose 7 year old son, Grayson, plays on the team Jason coaches says, “All the kids on Jason’s team were so excited to hear about this amazing honour. They’ll be thrilled to see the photos from the event. The boys are all so proud to play under Jason and to benefit from his dedication to our team and his many years of hockey experience.”
Holland is very humble about all his accomplishments in professional hockey. While he’s now retired from pro-hockey the game still influences how he lives and works.
“The game of hockey has given me so much,” says Holland. “It gave me a solid work ethic, taught me about being part of community and it’s that professionalism and drive that I gained through hockey that I now bring to my work with my clients,” says Holland. “There is also so much kinship between players and families. I owe so much to hockey.”
Of note, following in Holland’s footsteps of Morinville natives to reach the NHL, are Bryce Van Brabant of the Calgary Flames and most recently Brandon Hagel with his first NHL contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.