Charlestown attorney, John Tobin, has always been known for his long-time commitment to the local Charlestown Youth Hockey Association (CYHA), but late last month, he went national with his support of the game.
“I’m honored to be elected,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to doing this. It’s for three years…It is interesting working with people from around the country and talking about numerous hockey issues and regional issues. It’s very enjoyable.”
Tobin was elected by acclamation as Vice President of USA Hockey at its 2020 virtual Annual Congress last month. USA Hockey is the national governing body for the sport of amateur ice hockey in the United States and has jurisdiction over many areas from state affiliate organizations to the Olympics. It is based in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In this capacity, he will chair USA Hockey’s Legal Council. By virtue of this position, he will also sit on the Board of Directors of the USA Hockey Foundation, USA Hockey’s endowment fund.
Tobin said there is a convention twice a year when all the members meet, but he will be working daily on hockey issues.
“There is an in-house counsel and he reports to me,” he said. “I work with him on a daily basis. We have an outside counsel too. There are legal situations that pop up and governance issues and affiliate issues, as we have 38 affiliates around the country.”
Tobin, who has lived in Charlestown since 1979 and keeps a legal office in the Five Cent Bank building, was counsel to Massachusetts Hockey and sat on its Board of Directors. Most recently he completed four years as President of Massachusetts Hockey. He has sat on the USA Hockey Board of Directors since the early 2000s, served a term on its Executive Board and has also sat on its Legal Council. Since the inception of USA Hockey, this position has only been held by two individuals, both judges.
Tobin, however, is remembered for his key roles locally in CYHA as well – where he was the treasurer of the organization for some time. More importantly, by threatening legal action in the 1990s, he was able to get the state to re-open the Charlestown rink.
“They were needing to open the rink for the season, but because of budget cuts they announced they weren’t opening up the rinks,” he recalled. “I was a parent in CYHA and they asked if I would help them. They wanted to know if I could help legally. I put a case together and filed an injunction. The case was heard on a Friday, and then the state relented. It turns out the old MDC had violated the administrative procedures in closing. The Commonwealth just said it would open.”
While Tobin never played any hockey growing up in Maine, his son and daughter both played in CYHA and he was involved for 11 years – while also getting involved in the state and national hockey bodies too.
“CYHA was such a great experience for both of my kids,” he said.
His daughter actually reached the elite level, and he said that was really a testament to the CYHA being proactive in getting girls on the ice. He said in those days the boys would be out playing on the ice, but there were always several girls playing in the lobby. One year they had two of the girls go out on the ice with the boys, and the following year they had 36 girls show up to play.
“I really think my daughter’s hockey experience helped prepare her for the success she has had in her life,” he said. “It was a wonderful group of kids and parents.”
Right now, Tobin said USA Hockey is focusing on COVID-19 issues, opening rinks and making sure the numbers remain up for players across the U.S.
“The rinks have been closed now for the last two or three months and they’re starting to open now and we are working on our regulations and policies for next season and hoping our numbers aren’t down as compared to last year,” he said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed…We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the rinks can open and will stay open and people will come back.”