The Ontario Hockey League and Guelph Minor Hockey is mourning the loss of former Guelph and Owen Sound Platers owner and founder Joseph (Joe) Holody, who passed away on Wednesday, December 27th at the age of 96.
The community of Guelph is mourning the loss of Joe Holody, whose indomitable spirit and unwavering commitment to bettering the lives of those around him left an indelible mark on the city.
While his impact on various aspects of Guelph is vast, it is in the realm of minor hockey and his love of the sport that his
commitment truly shines, leaving an enduring impression on both the lives of young athletes and the entire city.
In his youth in Guelph, Joe shared the ice with notable figures such as Lou Fontinato and Hall of Famer Harry Howell while playing for the Guelph Biltmore Junior B Hockey Club. Following the conclusion of his own playing career, Joe's love for the sport endured. He transitioned into management and coaching roles within Guelph Minor Hockey and actively contributed to numerous teams within our association. His impact was significant, shaping the development of many young players, instilling in them a dedicated work ethic, and serving as a source of inspiration.
Joe's impact on Guelph's hockey scene has attained legendary status. In the 1960s and early 1970s, he assumed partial ownership of the tier 2 Junior A CMCs, eventually purchasing the team outright in 1975 and rebranding it as the "Holody Platers” (named after the Guelph business he founded, Holody Electro Plating Ltd). In September of the same year, Joe collaborated with the Guelph Minor Hockey Association to establish an agreement aligning the Platers with GMHA. This landmark arrangement unified minor hockey, Junior A, and Junior B in Guelph under a singular structure, enhancing development opportunities and advancement prospects for local players.
Before relocating the Platers to Owen Sound, the widely known "Smokin Joe" (always with a cigar in hand and wearing a fedora), spearheaded the return of Major Junior hockey to Guelph for the 1982-83 season when the Platers joined the OHL. Collaborating with his son Rob, who served as the general manager, and the head coach at that time, Jacques Martin (currently serving as the interim coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators), they achieved a momentous milestone by clinching the Memorial Cup in 1986. This victory marked the first Memorial Cup for the City of Guelph since 1952. Game nights would find Joe in the west end stands at Memorial Gardens, stogie hanging from his mouth and longtime friend/hockey advisor Alex Campagnaro at his side.
In a historic achievement, the Platers secured the coveted Centennial Cup double victory in 1978, complementing the earlier triumph of the CMCs in 1972. Such was the dominance of the Platers that they earned the esteemed title of Tier 2 "Franchise of the Century." This recognition culminated in the presentation of the OHA Centennial Award at the OHA 100th Anniversary Dinner in 1991. For his efforts, Holody was honored with the City of Guelph Award of Merit for Sports Contribution in 1978 and in 1981, he earned the prestigious title of Man of the Year for Guelph. Further, in 1983, the OHA recognized his outstanding service to the game by presenting him with the esteemed Gold Stick award, and he was inducted into the Guelph Sports Hall of Fame in 1995 as a builder. Joe also earned the prestigious Governor General award of Excellence and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, in 2012, for good work, good deeds and leadership. His name still resonates with current junior hockey fans through The Holody Trophy. Named in honour of Joe, this coveted trophy is awarded every year to the winner of the OHL’s Midwest Division.
Having achieved success in business, he consistently demonstrated a commitment to giving back through numerous sponsorships in Guelph's hockey community. Additionally, he generously supported various organizations, including Arc Industries, the General Hospital, and Hospice, among others, through substantial donations.
Visitation will be at Gilbert MacIntyre and Son Funeral Home, Hart Chapel, 1099 Gordon St. Friday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. with a vigil at 8:15 p.m. A funeral mass will be held on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Sacred Heart Church.