The hockey world was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Ron Ellis. The Hockey Ministries team extends its deepest sympathies to his wife, Janis, children, Kitty and R.J. and grandchildren.

    Ronnie was a remarkable player and ambassador for the game of hockey. Memorial Cup winner; Stanley Cup Champion; a winner with Team Canada in the historic victory over the Soviet Union in 1972. He was one of the most admired and loved players in the history of the Toronto Maple Leafs and was highly respected by teammates and hockey’s pro alumni everywhere.

    We will always remember his fun-loving spirit when participating in Christian Hockey Camps in the early days. Kids enjoyed his on- ice instruction and especially his leading music with his guitar during chapel times. He was a leader amongst Christians in the game and in 1979 courageously initiated a chapel program with the Leafs.

    Some Leaf Alumni had this to Say about Maple Leaf #6:   

     "Ron was a dear friend and such a humble man. I always looked forward to seeing him and  listening to his little giggle and mischievous ways. God used Ron in such a profound way in my life when I first came to the Leafs. I saw peace in his life, when I had no peace. And in the midst of his many years of battling depression I saw someone who was always the same no matter what happened on or off the ice. And I'm so grateful he went out of his comfort zone to begin chapels with the Leafs, where I heard for the first time my need for a Saviour." – Laurie Boschman

    “I drove to the airport with Ron on occasion and unbeknownst to me, he always parked on the 6th level- I asked him why. He explained that he once lost his car for a couple hours and so chose his sweater number 6, so that it would never happen again. Around 1977-78, I remember working at Teen Ranch hockey school, with Chevy (Ron). I recall he and I driving to the Dairy Queen and having a blast laughing and giggling about anything and everything. What struck me was that I was, a young kid still playing junior and Ronnie, a superstar with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and yet he had so much time for me. He was so grounded and a friend to everyone. He will be welcomed in heaven with open arms and is now with Jesus.” - Mark Kirton

    “Ron had a lot to do with my coming to faith in Christ!  When I was traded to Toronto, he was my first look at a Christian player that caught my interest!  A dedicated man who lived out his faith in God, his family and the game, in that order! And for that I will be eternally grateful! Where Ron is now I long to be also!”  -Dave Burrows

    “My fond memory and affection for Ron is summed up by things we had in common:  playing for the Leafs; served as presidents of the Leaf alumni; and the common bond of our faith in Christ- the foundation of our lives. He was not shy to stand up for his faith at a time when it wasn’t always embraced!  He was humble, gentle, kind, had an infectious laugh and always there to help and listen. However, his sensitive spirit was not to be misread. He was a fierce competitor known as a great teammate and team first player. I so appreciated his being a leader and one of the first athletes to overcome the stigma of mental health as he shared his own deep struggles. We related so well in this area. I understood the depth of his challenges and could always share those journeys having first-hand experience in our family. Ron will be dearly missed and always remembered.”-Mark Osborne

    “Ron was a very gracious and sensitive soul and an outstanding team player. I had the privilege of playing on a line with him on the Maple Leafs and in the ’72 Summit Series and would say that he was possibly the best defensive player ever. The Ellis’ and Henderson’s had a very close and enjoyable relationship over many years. He will be greatly missed. -Paul Henderson

    And now, the Ronnie Ellis Story in His Own Words:

    “This story is about an old friend, who in his teens, set a goal to become a pro hockey player. The sacrifices of not playing school football, attending school proms or driving the strip on Saturday nights were never regretted. Ultimately, he believed the goal of hockey would make the long practice hours, the heart aches and the bruised body worthwhile. To him, success and happiness could be attained by a lucrative pro contract which would provide a home, cars, travel and popularity.

    In junior hockey his team won the Memorial Cup. That same year he was voted to the second team All Star team for his position and selected MVP of his own team. The following year he turned pro and was runner up for the Rookie of the year award and in only his third season as a pro he was a member of a Stanley Cup team. Five years later, in 1972, he represented his country playing for Team Canada against the Russians. As well, by this time he had married a lovely girl, Jan, and together they cared for two terrific children.

    You are probably thinking this guy had it made. You’re wrong, he was miserable! He was plagued by periods of depression and insecurity and just didn’t like being with people. He complained about peace of mind and a life without purpose or meaning.

    The things he had acquired couldn’t fill the void in his life. Scoring goals and winning games only helped for the short term. It even got to the point where he contemplated quitting hockey because he blamed the game for his unfulfilled life.

    How do I know so much about this person? It’s simple, I was this person before I was born again at the age of 30 and experienced a changed life. One day during the 1974 season, the Maple Leaf’s were presented with beautiful inscribed Bibles as a gift from an organization called Teen Ranch. Inside there was a card that suggested if you were new to the Bible to read the book of John. After trying everything to fill the emptiness in my life. I felt I had nothing to lose. In John 10:10 I read of an abundant life Jesus wanted us to have. John 14 spoke of peace of mind and heart that made worry and fear unnecessary. Also, this chapter stated that only if you personally accepted the Son of God, who died for our sins could we have a relationship with God. This sounded like what I was looking for and wanted to know more.

    After the season, Jan and I attended a retreat weekend at Teen Ranch for pro athletes. The Bible was discussed and the teachings of Jesus were related to the life of an athlete. The other Christian athletes impressed me with their honesty, humility and genuine concern for Jan and me. The problems and pressures of their careers were very much under control and it was Jesus who was at the helm. It took only a few more days before Jan and I both invited Jesus into our lives to give us His peace, purpose and power.

    Since my commitment, I no longer measure my life by goals and assists. It is the tremendous peace I have knowing that Jesus has a plan for my life and purpose of serving Him to the fullest in all I do that makes the difference. I now try to live with these verses in mind.”

     “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not rely on your own insight. In all ways acknowledge Him. And He will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)