On Sunday, November 13, 2011, the Hockey Hall of Fame hosted their annual Hockey Hall of Fame Legends Classic Game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario. The game featured many classic names from the hockey world that took the ice representing either Team Bourque or Team Salming in an event that was entertaining for any hockey fan, young or old. While the players put on a great show for everyone who came out, proceeds from the event went towards a good cause, helping out Shoot For A Cure; a hockey-focused campaign that seeks to raise funds for spinal cord research, to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries in hockey and to promote prevention of hockey-related spinal cord injuries through the Play it Cool ™ prevention program, as well as stopconcussions.com.
Aside from the four Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees who took part in the game, as well as the respected captains of each team, many great names from different generations were out on the ice helping out a good cause. Team Salming consisted of Borje Salming, Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Angela James, Lanny McDonald, Dave Ellett, Mike Keane, Gary Leeman, Daniel Marois, Jeff O’Neill, Darcy Tucker and Sami Jo Small, who played between the pipes instead of Belfour. Team Bourque was just as recognizable as they were represented by Ray Bourque, Paul Coffey, Mark Howe, Joe Nieuwendyk, Steve Shutt, Bryan Trottier, Guy Carbonneau, Ron Duguay, Lori Dupuis, Theoren Fleury, Craig Muni, Gary Roberts and Billy Smith who got the call in net.
“We’re pretty fortunate guys to be able to do what we do and you know the only reason we have jobs is because people show up and pay the ticket prices and ultimately pay our salaries,” said Theoren Fleury. “I think its absolutely important and imperative that not only when you leave the game, but when you’re playing the game too, that you let the fans know a bit more about you and give yourself a little bit more because there are lots of people out there that need help,” added the seven-time All-Star.
Although it wasn’t your ordinary every day hockey game, the fans were energetic throughout the course of the game, even when the youngsters from Port Credit got their shot to come out and represent Team Salming. All of the players out on the ice catered to the kids and the fans and made this their own little way of saying ‘thanks for the support’ throughout the years.
“I think those guys realize how much of an impact they have out there and it’s terrific,” commented Joe Nieuwendyk. “You see guys like [Bryan] Trottier who does a great job with the kids and it’s special. Those guys have given a lot to the game and now they’re able to give back and help charities,” added the newest member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and three-time Stanley Cup champion.
Throughout the game, fans were shown appreciation as pairs of Haggar khaki pants were tossed into the crowd by players, as well as the referees; Ray Scapinello, Ron Hoggarth and Kerry Fraser, and were given out in different sections during the course of the game.
“I think when you’re able to come out and raise money for a charity, whether it be in the sports world or life in general, it changes you,” said Gary Roberts.
“I really do believe Shoot For A Cure has done a wonderful job in the community and it’s nice to see that the players support it,” added the one-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time All-Star.
Other proceeds from the game went towards stopconcussions.com, an online concussion/neurotrauma educational and awareness hub for all sports used to address the growing trend of concussions in sports.
“We do a lot of things like this all the time. We always do things for charity because it’s always good for you,” explained the ageless Borje Salming. “You have to give back what you got and this is a really good way to do that,” concluded the 1996 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee.
To learn more about Shoot For A Cure, visit http://www.shootforacure.org/
To learn more about stopconcussions.com, visit http://www.stopconcussions.com/about-us/
*Quotes from Theoren Fleury and Gary Roberts were contributed by Michael Cecchin