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This article was published 25/2/2021 (208 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Maurice Chaput left his footprint in every facet of his home community of Ste. Anne. But perhaps nowhere more so than in the hockey community as the legendary and longtime captain of the Ste. Anne Aces, which was followed by decades of volunteering in the sport.
Chaput died last week at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota at the age of 74 following a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
When it comes to hockey, Chaput left his mark on so many areas of the game, which includes being president of the Manitoba ‘AAA’ Midget Hockey League and was involved in the formation of the league, which began play in the 1980’s.
For the more than a decade the Eastman Selects were based in Ste. Anne, during the time that Chaput was president of the league , both his sons, first Daniel and then Robert, went through the program.
Rob Chaput has remained in Ste. Anne, working in a family business, and also spent many years playing for the Aces.
When the Selects won their first Manitoba ‘AAA’ Midget Hockey League crown, Dan Chaput was considered the top defenceman in the loop. He went on to play four years of NCAA Division I hockey at Ferris State in Michigan, then played another 10 years of minor professional hockey in the U.S.
His last four years were spent in the Central Hockey League at San Angelo, Texas, where he still lives today and works as an accountant.
Rob and Dan were with their father at the Mayo Clinic when he passed away on Feb. 12.
The footprint and lasting legacy that Maurice Chaput has left in the community of Ste. Anne is significant.
As a young teenager, Chaput was a member of that first team when the Ste. Anne Aces first joined the Hanover Tache Hockey League in the 1963-64 season. Bad knees forced him to retire following the 1981 season, leading the team for many of those years as the team captain.
The following year, the community held a special evening in his honour to mark the contributions Chaput had made to the Aces as one of its original players and his lengthy tenure as captain.
All the while, Chaput was also very involved in the community, which included a stint as fire chief, president of Ste. Anne Minor Hockey and was also president of the Hanover Tache Hockey League. And in the latter years was involved in helping to get the helipad built at the Ste. Anne Hospital.
Most of his working career was spent working in transportation and maintenance management with the Seine River School Division and for the past number of years with the Franco-Manitoban School Division (DSFM). He was still working for them just a couple of years ago under contract co-ordinating the construction of a new school in the division.
"I am proud of the legacy my father has left in Ste. Anne," said his son Rob. "Although he wasn’t ready to die, at the end he accepted his fate. I am just glad that Dan and I were able to be there with him."
Chaput was diagnosed with kidney cancer five years earlier and had received ongoing treatment at the Mayo Clinic over a period of time, and had largely recovered from that bout with cancer.
Wes Keating, the former Sports Editor at The Carillon, who covered Chaput during his final decade with the Aces and subsequently forged a lifelong friendship with him, said "He was the leader and the captain of the Aces for so many years."
Keating recalled that when the Aces won the 1978 HTHL championship at home and after the game when out to his car and all four of his tires were flat. "Guess someone didn’t like what I wrote about the Aces."
At any rate, when Chaput caught wind of it, he left the victory celebration and went to get a compressor to put air in Keating’s tires. "That’s the kind of guy he was," said Keating, who wrote a book in 1983, highlighting the first 25 years of the HTHL, a book that Chaput was frequently mentioned in.
"Maurice Chaput will always be remembered as one of the greatest players to lace up a pair of skates in Ste. Anne, and for his leadership as well," said Keating. "He was also known as a true gentleman off the ice, but players who played against the Aces will agree that on the ice it was a different story as he was extremely competitive."
From playing a role in getting the Ste. Anne Arena built in the late 60’s, to forming the Eastman Selects in 1988 and a 15-year run with Hockey Manitoba, Maurice Chaput left his mark on the community over six decades.
When Steinbach hosted the Allan Cup in 2009, Host Chair Randy Wolgemuth immediately tapped Chaput to be involved with the event. He was also Hockey Manitoba’s Senior AAA rep and travelled to the Allan Cup national championships on several occasions, both the with the Ile des Chenes North Stars and Southeast Prairie Thunder.
The final word goes to Jacques St. Vincent, himself a bit of a legend when it comes to Ste. Anne Aces lore. The Aces’ puck stopper, several years younger than Chaput, played with Chaput for the last 10 years or so of Chaput’s 20-year playing career.
When St. Vincent got an Aces’ Hall of Fame display going in recent years at the Ste. Anne Arena, Maurice Chaput was the first Hall of Fame inductee.
St. Vincent, who has recently returned to his role as Aces’ GM, says all Aces players next season will wear a #6 patch on their jerseys in memory of Maurice Chaput. He says they also have other things in the works to honour Chaput down the road.
"He was a good friend, I miss him already," said St. Vincent.
"Maurice was involved in so many things, including fastball and baseball, and always led by example."
"It hurts, he was such an outstanding person," St. Vincent added, "he is absolutely irreplaceable in this community."