The McLellan’s are big Titan fans. Ron, Gail and their three children – and now grandchildren- have followed and cheered for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan since the team relocated to Bathurst from Laval in 1998.
“When the Titan came here and being the level of hockey that it is, it just simply fell in our laps if you know what I’m saying,” said Ron McLellan. “It was really quite an opportunity…in New Brunswick to say the least to have one of 60 Canadian Hockey League teams in Canada.”
The self-proclaimed “sports family” have faithfully followed the team as personal and corporate sponsors over the teams more than 20 years in the community. The Titan have won two President Cup championships and a Memorial Cup championship during that time, and they did so as the smallest market team in the Canadian Hockey League.
McLellan said “tremendous” hockey has taken place at the K.C. Irving Regional Centre over the years, and many former Titan have since gone on to play professionally. Titan alumni who are now playing in the NHL or have since retired include Patrice Bergeron, Mathieu Perrault, Ramzi Abid, Patrick Bordeleau, Bruno Gervais, François Beauchemin, Noah Dobson and Roberto Luongo. In 2014 a group of local investors bought the Acadie-Bathurst Titan from the former owner. McLellan applauded the groups move and continuing efforts and commitment to keep the Titan in the City of Bathurst.
“A big heart and a huge, huge thank you to the people that stepped-forward to purchase the team [and] make sure it stayed here.” Personally speaking, McLellan said the community is fortunate and it’s a privilege to have the major junior team in the area. “They certainly need fan support to make sure it stays here.”
McLellan has several favourite hockey memories over the years including Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal at the 2010 Olympics to the 1972 Canada-Russia summit series. But when it comes to his home team Titan, without a doubt one of his favourite memories go back to the first year they played here during the 1998-99 season. “They had an incredible team and a lot of the players did go on to the NHL.”
The K.C. Irving Regional Centre can seat about 3,500 people, not including standing room. In that inaugural year there were about 5,000 people attending home games during the season. People would even camp overnight in hopes of getting playoff tickets, said McLellan, which “really showed how incredible it was appreciated back then.”
“A lot of things have changed since then, and the communities changed. But, we got to continue to try to support the team.”
The Titan roster for the upcoming 2021-22 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League season features 10 players who cracked NHL rookie and development camps prior to the Oct. 1 season opener. McLellan said it speaks volumes to the team, Titan General Manager Sylvain Couturier and Titan staff.
“Everybody is just so committed to make this thing what it used to be,” said McLellan. “And I think there’s an awful lot of major corporate sponsors and personal, people that have supported the team right from day one, also that are still there and doing everything possible.”
The Bathurst McDonalds, which McLellan owns, has been a corporate sponsor of the Titan since the beginning. Wednesday marks the annual McHappy Day at McDonalds and proceeds from the Bathurst event are split between the Chaleur Regional Hospital Foundation’s pediatrics department and Ronald McDonald Children Charities. McLellan’s appreciative of everything the community has done to support McHappy Day and make the Bathurst community location one of the most successful McHappy Day fundraisers in the Canadian McDonalds system.
He said the Titan, alongside other local community groups, citizens and businesses, who have made the day such a resounding success, have faithfully participated in their annual McHappy Day for years. “The Titan have always supported McHappy Day,” he said. “Right from when we started McHappy Day they came here.”
McLellan asked the community to circle October 1st on the calendar when the puck drops between the Moncton Wildcats and the Titan in their 2021-22 QMJHL season home opener. “As a community let’s fill the K.C. Irving Regional Centre and show these young (talented hockey players) how proud we are of them.” McLellan hopes fans and season ticket holders pack the rink when the puck drops. “It will be an incredible evening of fun and excitement and the Titan will make Bathurst proud.”