Former NHL defenceman turned Hockey Night in Canada analyst Kevin Bieksa has fond memories of Ivor Wynne Stadium and he’s been reminiscing while on location at Tim Hortons Field for the 2022 Heritage Classic.
The 40-year-old grew up in Grimsby, which is just over 20 minutes from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats home field. That’s where the Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
“This is nostalgic for me because I grew up coming to this stadium with my dad,” Bieka said on Sportsnet.
“I remember I grew up in Hamilton, six years old, and he’d drive me on his Harley Davidson, I’d go on the back — no helmet, which is pretty illegal now but back then it was fine — and we’d come to the Tiger-Cat games here.”
Bieksa played in the Ontario Minor Hockey Association for the Grimsby Peach Kings while graduating to suit up for the Stoney Creek Warriors and Burlington Cougars. The physical and aggressive defenceman totalled 13 seasons from 2005 to 2018 in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks.
“I remember a lot of cold football games and a lot of ‘Oskee wee wee, oski wah, wah’ chants. This stadium is a special place,” Bieksa said. “Hamiltonians are hard-working, blue collar people. This is steel country and steel work is a tough job. It’s great for me to be back here.”
The six-foot-one, 197-pound Bieksa played 808 NHL games while recording 63 goals, 215 assists and 1,124 penalty minutes. He added 10 goals, 20 assists and 147 penalty minutes in 86 post-season tilts.