The legendary founder and inaugural owner of the erstwhile Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League has passed away at the age of 81.
A fun-loving man who loved his Bulls and enjoyed talking hockey over cold Molson products, Dr. Robert Vaughan lost his battle with lung disease on Wednesday at Belleville General Hospital.
Affectionately and fondly known as “Doc” in and around OHL circles, he was part of an ownership group that founded and maintained the Bulls in the Ontario Provincial Jr. A Hockey League from 1979 to 1981, culminating with a Dudley-Hewitt Cup championship.
Doc Vaughan later partnered with local businessman Bob Dolan to obtain an OHL franchise for Belleville effective the 1981-1982 season. He later bought Dolan out and remained the majority owner of the Bulls until he sold the Bulls to Gord Simmonds in 2004.
Simmonds subsequently sold the Bulls in 2015 and the franchise relocated to Hamilton and became the Bulldogs.
Paul Svoboda, the former sports editor of the Belleville Intelligencer, said the Bulls were never the same after Doc Vaughan sold the franchise in 2004.
“Let’s face it, Doc Vaughan and his family were the Belleville Bulls and when you came here to play for the Bulls, you instantly became part of the Vaughan family — that’s just the way it was for them.
“Once the team was sold, it just kind of lost that whole family atmosphere that had surrounded it for so many years” Svoboda added. “I covered the Bulls for a long time and Doc and I had all kinds of disagreements over things I wrote but it never affected our relationship one bit. He was always the consummate professional.”