Courtesy of Cathy Sproule, director of events
As the players haul their hockey bags on to the bus for a long ride, to hit yet another town, another hotel and another arena, one may ask, why? Why, after their celebrated NHL hockey careers, are they going down the road to play in another charity hockey game?
© Photo: Tim LeBrasseur
Le hockey, ce n'est pas que pour les gars.
Well, the same answer to this question comes from each one of the Legendary Hockey Heroes on the Oldtimers’ Hockey Challenge team, “I love it and I want to give back”.
Every night when Hockey Hall of Fame Members Billy Smith, Steve Shutt Glenn Anderson, Dave McLlwain, Craig Muni, Gaston Gingras, Gary Leeman, Daniel Marios, Tom Fergus and Grant Ledyard step on the ice for the opening ceremonies under lasers, pyro and razzle dazzle, they know it’s show time!
When the puck drops against the local Hamilton - Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Team on 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, March 27 at Copps Coliseum, the players will take fans down memory lane and showcase the skills and talent that made them hockey greats. And the fans are never disappointed. The Legendary Hockey Heroes, playing in this game have 19 Stanley Cup championship rings amongst them.
For Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Shutt, he has it all; 5 Stanley Cup Championships with the Montreal Canadiens and a Canada Cup Championship, to mention a few, but on the Oldtimers’ Hockey Challenge Tour, this has been a brand new chapter in Shutty’s hockey life.
It’s as much a thrill for Steve and Glenn and Billy to play in front of the appreciative fans as it is for the fans to watch these celebrated players and their teammates skate effortlessly down the ice, passing and scoring like they’ve been playing together for years.
“It’s all about the entertainment, fun, giving to charity and embracing the memories,” said Shutt. “These fans are the fabric of our Canadian hockey culture that bonds our communities. The Oldtimers’ Hockey Tour allows us to connect with the fan on a one-on- one basis, and allows them to see us as human beings. This takes us all back to the grass roots of our national obsession for the sport.”
Midway through the game, Glenn Anderson and Gary Leeman leads the local Tyke Team onto the ice to take on the legends for a quick match-up as TSN’s Rod Black does the play by play. Miraculously the tykes score against Billy Smith and the stands go wild! For these six year olds, scoring a goal against the Legends is like winning a Stanley Cup. And that’s exactly what Glenn gives these miniature nhl’ers - a Stanley Cup! These are the memories that are etched with the kids forever and the kind of dreams these former NHL’ers leave in every town they go from coast to coast.
These players come from four decades in the NHL (70’s, 80’s, 90’s & 2000’s). As varied as each players background is, the common bond is getting back on the ice together, back with their fans, back in the dressing room and back on the bus to share their colorful versions of hockey war stories.
So, as the Legendary Hockey Heroes go travelin’ down the road on the Oldtimers’ Hockey Challenge Tour, you could say they are seasoned road warriors. But, they will tell you it’s their way of saying “thank you” to the fans for their cherished memories in the NHL.
Check out the Oldtimers’ Hockey Challenge Game coming to Hamilton at Copps Coliseum, 7:00pm, Tuesday, March 27th, 2012. Go to oldtimershockey.com. Tickets: $25. For Discount 2 for the price of 1 go to; Oldtimershockey.com promo code: legend