The award was presented to Playfair at the game between the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Wellington Dukes of the OJHL at the LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo. The game was labelled “Playfair Appreciation Night” by the Jr. Sabres
OHA Chair Marc Mercier and OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy honor Larry Playfair as recipient of Marc Mercier Chair Award at the LECOM Harborcenter on September 20, 2023 in Buffalo, NY, United States(Photo by Cameron Ernst / OJHL Images)
September 20, 2023, Buffalo, NY – …. Larry Playfair, retired NHLer veteran (1978-1990), former President of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni (2007-2012) and long-time governor of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres franchise in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) and a proud member of the Ontario Hockey Association since 2008 when the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association acquired the junior franchise and took over daily operations of the team, was presented with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Marc Mercier Chairman’s Award tonight.
The award was presented to Playfair by OJHL Commissioner Marty Savoy and OHA Chair Marc Mercier at the game between the Buffalo Jr. Sabres and Wellington Dukes of the OJHL at the LECOM Harborcenter in downtown Buffalo. The game was labelled “Playfair Appreciation Night” by the Jr. Sabres. A first-round draft pick of the Sabres in 1978, Playfair played in 688 NHL games with Buffalo and the Los Angeles Kings. A permanent resident of Western New York, Larry was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame 2022.
First awarded in 2015, the Marc Mercier Chair’s Award is presented to an individual associated with the OJHL who demonstrates over a materially meaningful period of time the core values of the OJHL, including integrity, professionalism, sportsmanship and personal growth, and who has gone above and beyond the normal course of responsibilities for the betterment of the league.
“Larry’s impact and contribution to the OJHL goes far beyond the commitment he makes each season to the players and staff of the Junior Sabres,” Savoy said. “His vision, support and dedication for the Ojhl has been so valuable that without Larry Playfair the OJHL would not be the league it is today.”
“For several decades and throughout multiple ownership groups, Larry and his spouse Jayne have had the vision, persistence and determination to create and foster the growth of the Buffalo Jr Sabres,” said Sean Wallace, Head Coach and General Manager of the Jr. Sabres. “Jayne and Larry have been the consistent bridge between the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Jr Sabres.”
The entire Buffalo Jr Sabres youth hockey organization was invited to “Playfair Appreciation Night” by the Jr. Sabres. All players were given “Playfair Appreciation Night” T-shirts. “The bridge between the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Jr Sabres began with a Jr. A team,” Wallace told the OJHL, “expanded to include a midget program, and has now grown to 14 teams from 7U to Jr A. This has been a vision of the Playfairs, to create an elite organization to give players the ability to reach their potential and to play at the highest levels of the game.”
Playfair has also been instrumental in having the OJHL Governors’ Showcase hosted by the Jr. Sabres at the LECOM Harborcenter. The event attracts NHL, NCAA and OHL scouts every fall.
Throughout the history of the Junior A hockey club, former Buffalo Sabres have offered their services as head or associate coaches. Former Junior Sabres coaches include Mike Peca, Larry Mickey, Morris Titanic and Jim Lorentz. Ric Seiling served as an associate/assistant coach for three seasons when the club was known as the Niagara Scenic. In addition to hundreds of college-bound players, the franchise (including its Scenic and Lightning eras) has been a stepping stone to the NHL for several players including Brian Gionta, Todd Marchant, Jeff Farkas, Lee Stempniak, Aaron Miller, Kevyn Adams and Ryan Callahan.
About the Ontario Hockey Association
The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) was founded on November 27, 1890, and is the governing body for the majority of Junior and Senior hockey in the Province of Ontario. The OHA is a Member Partner of the Ontario Hockey Federation which is one of thirteen Provincial and Regional Branches of Hockey Canada. It is comprised of three Junior hockey leagues and two Senior hockey leagues: Junior A – Ontario Junior Hockey League; Junior B – Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League; Junior C – Provincial Junior Hockey League, Sr. AAA – Allan Cup Hockey and Ontario Elite Hockey League at the the Sr. AAA and Sr. AA categories of play. For the 2023-24 season, these five leagues encompass 125 teams at the Junior and Senior levels.
The objectives of the OHA are to foster and encourage the sport of amateur hockey, to conduct competition in the various categories established, to determine teams for entry into the inter-branch competitions that may be provided by Hockey Canada, and to provide for the affiliation of other hockey organizations.
The OHA provides administrative resources, coordinates programs, services and events for hockey participants and provides support to various Development Programs for coaches, officials, trainers and players, Safety and Risk Management Issues and offers resources for Harassment and Abuse education.