Cape Breton University to honour Al MacNeil, Cape Breton hockey legend and Builder of Champions

Allister (Al) Wences MacNeil is a well respected Canadian hockey athlete, leader and builder with Cape Breton roots. With an international hockey career spanning some 50 years, Mr. MacNeil has been a capacity builder on many levels within his sport.  He has been a player, coach, director of player development, assistant to the general manager and vice-president of hockey operations.  Perhaps his most noted hockey achievement is having his name etched on four different championship trophies at various levels, as a player, coach and executive.

Based upon his impressive career and Cape Breton ties, it is fitting that Cape Breton University has chosen to recognize Mr. MacNeil for his many outstanding accomplishments. As part of its Creating Champions Campaign – a fundraising initiative to raise $2 million to create an endowment fund specifically for scholarships and bursaries for student-athletes – CBU will create the Al MacNeil Builder of Champions Scholarship, ensuring his legacy and values carry forward with generations of Cape Breton student-athletes. Funds for this award will be raised through a series of events, including a gala evening in Mr. MacNeil’s honour, to be held on Friday, July 8, 2011, at the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre.

“Throughout his career, Al MacNeil has demonstrated his ability to be both a great athlete and a leader of great athletes. Cape Breton University is pleased to be honouring a man who has inspired and delivered results with integrity and modesty. Certainly, MacNeil is a role model for our student-athletes, many of whom will be community, business and sport leaders in the future. The Al MacNeil Scholarship is an important means for CBU to further support our student-athletes in the longer term ”according to CBU President & Vice-Chancellor, John Harker.

The Al MacNeil Builder of Champions Gala Evening will feature several hockey celebrities who have worked or befriended MacNeil over his lengthy career. To date, confirmed celebrities include Jim Gregory, senior vice-president, Hockey Operations, NHL; Pierre Page, head coach, director of hockey operation, EC Red Bulls, Salzburg, Switzerland; Al MacIsaac, vice-president and assistant to the president, Chicago Blackhawks; Mike McPhee, former 11 year NHL player with the Montreal Canadians, Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars; Brian Burke, president and general manager, Toronto Maple Leafs; Cliff Fletcher, senior advisor, Toronto Maple Leafs and former general manager of the Calgary Flames.

Event co-chairs David Dingwall and Dr. Carl “Bucky” Buchanan have been actively guiding the planning committee for over a year. “I am delighted to be co-chairing this exciting project with Dr. Carl “Bucky” Buchanan. CAPERS athletes are among the best in the country and having the opportunity to pay homage to native Cape Bretoner and hockey legend Al MacNeil while supporting student-athletes is a privilege,” says Dingwall.

The gala evening promises to be a spectacular tribute to Mr. MacNeil and an opportunity to bring together those that have shared in his life. The Al MacNeil Builder of Champions Scholarship will serve to further entrench Mr. MacNeil’s stellar reputation, while at the same time assist future generations of CBU student-athletes realize their dreams.

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