YARMOUTH, N.S. – Members of the over-40 men’s hockey league in Yarmouth lost one of their own this past winter when Imrich Kiraly died as the result of a car crash. In his memory, the league has established a sportsmanship award and on June 14 it was presented for the first time to longtime player Bob Durkee.
The presentation was made in the lobby of the Mariners Centre, where some of the league’s players were present, along with Robbi Seale, Kiraly’s widow, who said she was touched when she learned what the league was doing as a tribute to her late husband.
“I was totally humbled and honoured and grateful,” she said.
League rep Frank Grant, who served as emcee for the award presentation, said it’s fitting that an award recognizing sportsmanship would be named after Kiraly, given the kind of person he was.
“When we think of Imrich, we think of sportsmanship and fellowship,” Grant said.
Kiraly’s work background enabled him to assist players when they had aches and pains.
“He would jump in and help out,” Grant said. “That was Imrich.”
As for Bob Durkee – the first recipient of the sportsmanship award bearing Kiraly’s name – Grant said Durkee has exemplified those things the award is meant to recognize.
“He’s always friendly,” Grant said. “He’s a fierce competitor, but he’s got all the qualities of being a sportsman.”
Seale also spoke highly of Durkee, saying he deserves the award.
Kiraly was 71 when he died. Aside from playing hockey, he was a very accomplished track-and-field athlete. In his earlier years, he was one of Canada’s best decathletes. More recently, he had returned to athletics as a masters competitor and had won many medals at various championship meets.
“When we think of Imrich, we think of sportsmanship and fellowship.”
On and off the ice – or on and off whatever the playing surface was – Kiraly was the same person, Seale said. He liked the fellowship aspect of sports, how it brought people together, she said, and he always did his best.
“Whether you win or lose, you just give 100 per cent and that’s what he always did,” she said. “Now I have to try to follow that. That’s my goal, to follow him.”