In Lower Mainland hockey circles, Aldo Bruno’s name is synonymous with the PJHL and the Grandview Steelers. He’s been with the franchise for 25 years and continues to pour his heart and soul into the club. The PJHL spoke to the longtime builder in this installment of PJHL Q&A.
PJHL: When did you get involved with Grandview and why do you think you’ve stayed involved for so long?
Aldo Bruno: I first became involved with the Grandview Steelers in 1998 when I was given the opportunity to coach the team. I’ve been involved for this many years due to the sheer love and passion for the game, as well as to be able to give young athletes the opportunity to play at a higher level than they may have before.
PJHL: Kyle Turris and Andrew Hammond came through your program but the NHL isn’t going to be in the cards for everyone. What do you consider to be a success story for your players?
AB: I think kids can use this program to become good teammates, and develop their leadership skills which they will continue to expand in their everyday lives and future careers. Although some of the players that came through our organization made it to the NHL, there have been a multitude of players that have gone on to become doctors, dentists, police officers, firemen, and many other careers in which they have strived towards. Even though most haven’t made it as far as the NHL, some have gone on to play for Junior A teams in which they have gained access to valuable schooling and education. With that being said, I consider the greatest success story for all of my players is to be able to learn valuable life lessons and create memories and friendships throughout their time playing for the team that they will carry on throughout their lives.
PJHL: When you talk to young players as you’re looking for new talent, what do you tell them about Grandview and the PJHL to convince them this is a good place to play?
AB: I will firstly let them know that the PJHL as a whole will lend them opportunities to develop their skills and learn different aspects of the game, and they will get to showcase their talents to a larger audience than they may have had access to before. Specifically, I let them know that Grandview looks for character kids whom we will focus directly on, and we will always be looking for opportunities to move them on to the next level. In our program, the kids will get to practice and play in key situations such as power play, penalty killing, and late-minute situations. Overall, I let young players know that Grandview is always looking to develop their skills through our experienced coaching staff and our great list of alumni.
PJHL: What are the biggest differences in the PJHL today compared to when you started out?
AB: The biggest difference in the PJHL now compared to when I played is that it’s a younger league focused more about development rather than fighting and having a good time. The PJHL now focuses on exposure and creating a stepping stone to Junior A or other higher levels, and I am proud to say that the ‘Jungle B’ mentality is long gone.
PJHL: What is the story behind the Snoopy jerseys your teams have worn a few times a season over the years?
AB: The original owner of the team owned a steel company (editor’s note: Ed Rowan of Rowan’s Steel Ltd.), which is where the name ‘Steelers’ originated. The Snoopy character came from his daughter whose favourite show was ‘The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show’, so we now wear these jerseys a few times a year to honour Ed and pay homage to our original colours.
PJHL: Who is someone behind the scenes with your franchise that really makes things work and doesn’t get a lot of recognition?
AB: Although the Grandview Steelers organization has many volunteers who faithfully come out to help during our home games, my wife and daughter, Rose and Nadia, have helped out with the team for years. They deal with admissions, run 50/50, cash out our float each game and had to deal with the challenges of enforcing the changing COVID-19 mandates during the pandemic. Though I may not say it enough, I am truly grateful for their everlasting help and support!
PJHL: Which players of your have you been most impressed with this season, either in their improvement from when they started with the Steelers or just their production each game?
AB: The older players on our team have shown incredible leadership skills and have guided the younger players towards preparing themselves to play at the next level. Our captain, Alec Pettingale has continued to prove himself as a leader and showcases his work ethic on and off the ice, which I know is heavily appreciated in the dressing room. Kaidan Johnson has come to the team for his last year and taken the younger kids under his wing in showing them what it takes to make it to the next level. Overall, many have showcased their maturity in the Junior Hockey world and have all made it a priority to improve their production each game.
PJHL: Do you have an ‘offseason’ and what does that include for you?
AB: We really don’t have an off season but I encourage our players to continue to train and better their skills. I am always looking to move current players on to the next level, recruit new players for the upcoming season, and overall, continue to grow and better the Grandview Steelers organization and team.