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From the Press Box: Playing for a Cause

 

Help put Alzheimer’s on Ice or Let’s Stick it to Alzheimer’s.

Those are the two main slogans for the Scotiabank Hockey for Alzheimer’s tournament. HockeyNow had a team in the event November 14 to 16 in Vancouver. What a blast. This was the third year we have been involved as a media sponsor and played in the event. We have also been involved three years in a row with the Toronto event.

It’s a real honour to be around all the players that have fundraised and come out to enjoy a great weekend of hockey. A big part of the weekend is the involvement of the NHL Alumni Association. If you aren’t familiar with the event, it is set up so that each team has to raise a minimum of $25,000 to be eligible to play in the event. With the B.C. event, the money goes to the Alzheimer’s Society of B.C. (in the Toronto event, the money goes to the Baycrest Foundation).

On draft night, each team in descending order of money fundraised gets to draft an NHL Alumni player onto their team. The NHL Alumni plays all three games with that team. The draft night in both locations is always a stellar night reserved just for Alumni, teams and sponsors.

The one thing that always impresses me is how genuine all the Alumni are. Everyone of them hangs out post games for beers and food with the team that drafted them and there are always other alumni hanging out. They really care and are invested in both events. It’s really cool and they make it a ton of fun.

In the past few events, we had the likes of Rob Pearson, Gary Leeman, Dennis Maruk, Mark Lofthouse, Dave McLlwain and Todd Hlushko. All amazing guys that had a great time, made the event what it was and frankly encouraged the fundraising. Hats off to all of them.

This year we drafted Gary Nylund. What a great guy to have on our team. We had picked the New York Islanders colours for our team jerseys (well it wasn’t we, it was me. I am a longtime Islanders fan). Well Gary shows up with his 1992-1993 NYI jersey in his bag. Total coincidence. He wore it in Game 1. Sadly he got injured and couldn’t play Game 2 and 3 for us, but he turned into a top shelf coach. Lord knows we needed a coach. He had many tips and they were all solid. We wish we could have given him a winning record in his first Hockey For Alzheimer's coaching gig, but we lost all three games and that had nothing to do with coaching. We had a great time.

This year’s event raised north of $700,000 (final number still being tallied).

Thanks to the volunteers, organizing committee, Scotiabank and the NHL Alumni.

I would strongly encourage all of you to enter a team next year.

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