Published Thursday, 24 October 2013
Former Belfast Giants owner Jim Gillespie. (© Michael Cooper)
As the man credited with saving the Giants from collapse when he first became involved back in 2003, Jim Gillespie took over as owner for the next 10 years – steering the side through its first decade in the Elite League.
Current general manager Todd Kelman hailed the decision to honour him.
“As an organisation, we are extremely grateful to the selection committee for electing Jim to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame,” he said.
“He deserves it and a lot of people outside of Northern Ireland, or not directly involved in the sport, might not understand his full impact on our team or this game - but those that know the story will see this is an honourable move for a first class human being.”
Simply put, there would not be a Belfast Giants if it was not for Jim Gillespie. He is the reason this team exists today.
Todd Kelman, Belfast Giants
As well as financial backing, Jim Gillespie instilled an ethos of community involvement in the Belfast Giants franchise and led the way in establishing cross-community youth work programmes.
“The Giants are something that Northern Ireland and Belfast need and Jim always recognised that we were much more than a professional sports team here in Belfast,” Todd Kelman said.
“He understood, and made sure that we all understood, that we were much more important off the ice to the people of Northern Ireland than we were on the ice.”
Jim Gillespie was nominated by two long-time fans of the Belfast Giants, Davy McGimpsey and Patrick Smyth.
Thanking them on behalf of the Giants, Todd Kelman added: “It is a testament to the legacy Jim has left when two people that have supported the Giants for so many years took it upon themselves to pursue this honour for him, because they believed he deserved this great honour.
“I know Jim will be very surprised and hugely honoured to be part of the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.”
During Jim Gillespie’s 10 years of involvement, the Belfast Giants won two Elite League titles, two Playoff Championships, one Knock-Out Cup and one Challenge Cup.
© UTV News