Year Inducted: 1998
Norm Baril was one of the founding fathers of the Cornwall Royals.
He was also the man who sowed the seeds for a major junior hockey club which would win three Memorial Cup Championships in a 10-year span, a feat which had been accomplished just once before, when the Oshawa Generals won three titles in the pre-Second World War era.
The Royals were a true rags-to-riches story with Baril masterminding much of the success.
He built a Central Junior “B” Hockey League powerhouse from a team which had played in the City Junior Hockey League. The first step up the ladder was to the Ottawa and District Junior Hockey League, with Baril as General Manager.
The league became the Central Junior Hockey League. In the first season, the Royals, using mostly local players, lost to the Smiths Falls Bears in the seventh and deciding game of the final. It was the beginning of a long and passionate love affair for Cornwall and district hockey fans.
The Royals also were becoming a success story at the box-office. In one key playoff game against the Brockville Braves, 3,000 packed the Water Street Arena. In all, the Royals drew an astonishing 21,000 fans in the playoff run.
With some shrewd trades and recruiting in the Ottawa District, Baril put together a powerhouse for the 1965-66 season. They would win three consecutive CJHL Championships.
In the spring of 1968, Baril ignored the critics and armchair quarterbacks and left the security of the CJHL for the Montreal Metro Hockey League. The Royals became the first non-Quebec team to play in the league.
In the offseason, the Royals took another quantum leap. They became part of the new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Again, there was no shortage of critics. And, when Baril proclaimed that the Royals would win the Memorial Cup within three seasons, there were howls of laughter.
But, a funny thing happened – the Royals won the Memorial Cup in 1972.
Baril would leave the Royals for the Hull Festivals, where he served as General Manager.
Looking back, it is fair to say that if Norm Baril had not joined the struggling Royals in 1963, the team would not have survived to become a household name in major junior hockey circles.