The retiring of a number for an athlete is an honor an association bestows upon a player after the players retires from the sport and today we are retiring the numbers for three players who all played for numerous years and were among the best players of all time, Terry Griffith, James Mentis and Robert Mentis and their numbers will not be worn by anyone competing internationally for Canada.
Today, we not only honor the three individuals, but the founding members of the Midnight Express, Terry Griffith along with James and Bobby Mentis and they were the life blood of the team from its inception and their first National Championship in 1996 and are the first three individuals to have their numbers retired by the association.
Once a number is retired, no future player from the team may wear that number on their uniform, unless the player so-honored permits it. Such an honor of having a players number retired are often referred to as "hanging from the rafters" and these three numbers will now and forever be honored.
#97 - Terry Griffith
When approached in the mid nineties by the Mentis Brothers from his team in Mississauga to start the Express, the game of ball hockey -- especially in Ontario -- was forever changed.
To many, Griffith was the sport of hockey. His arrival to the Express brought instant credibility and notoriety to the franchise. He was a leader and the crowds would follow and it became the norm at whatever arena
they played at to watch this monster of a man control the tempo of the game by either leading an end-to-end rush to sitting back and slowing the game down. A ticket to an Express game to see Griffiths was a must.
He was also selected to Team Canada in 2001, but unfortunately due to an accident was never able to play for the team, but since retiring as a player, Griffith returned to coach the Express and put together one of the greatest teams in the 2011 version which demolished all opponents enroute to the teams championship.
#95 - James ‘Chicky’ Mentis
He is one of the most popular and respected players in the history of the sport by his teammates and opponents. Respect is earned and game in and game out he continued to earn the respect and never took anything for granted.
Chicky’s accomplishments with the Express and Team Canada are
unmatched with the number of championships. It is Mentis’s true and genuine passion for the game -- and for the fans of the game in particular – that has helped elevate him into a unique grouping of athletes in the sport.
To call Mentis "The Greatest” may be an understatement. His many records and accomplishments are legendary. But the fact that he played at the World Championships as a forty-nine year old youngster and that his name is synonymous with the sport of ball hockey might not be superseded by any other athlete ever in the sport.
#27 - Robert ‘Bobby’ Mentis
No player in the history of the Express ever wore the uniform with more distinction and class than Robert Mentis. For 18 seasons, Mentis gave his all, both on and off the floor, receiving numerous individual awards, all star selections for his outstanding tournament play and leading the teams to provincial and national championships and in 2001 being selected to Team Canada.
From his first days on the floor and rising through the Midas Top Gun system it was his grit and work ethic that had him rise above the other players. His skill was second to none and quite simply he was the best left winger the sport of ball hockey has ever with his prolific scoring touch, on-floor determination and will to win was unrivaled.
In the summer of 2013, he returned to the National program as an assistant coach to teach, guide and share his knowledge with the next generation, the consummate professional in assisting wherever he was required and showing his leadership.
The three were consummate gentlemen both in and outside the sport of ball hockey. They were
fierce competitors in the game of ball hockey and it didn't matter if it was at the League, Provincials, Nationals or Worlds. They won.
They set the standard by which all players will be measured. For them their legacy will now be honored forever.
#27, #95, #97 mercied