Hockey Fights Hockey

2 Nov

Go ahead and make other plans for New Year’s Day, the Kraft Annual Winter Classic Party is officially off. Due to an inexplicable labor dispute between players and owners, the NHL canceled the outdoor contest, which was to feature the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Scheduled to be played in front of over 100,000 fans in Michigan Stadium, the game was also the highest rated televised hockey game each year.

When my Philadelphia Flyers visited Fenway Park to face the Bruins in 2010, I got the not-so bright idea to drag the TV outside to watch the game in the elements on the back deck. We invited over some of our heartiest and foolhardy friends over to join us and a tradition was born. A bon fire, street hockey tourney, hot cider and cold beer helped us brave the conditions.

Unfortunately, the NHL saw fit to shoot themselves in the foot once again and have scraped their marquee event as well as a sizable portion of their season with no labor agreement in sight.

While we had a lot of fun, we also used the party to raise awareness for cancer. When we published “The Year My Dad Went Bald,” we decided to make Hockey Fights Cancer, the charitable initiative of the National Hockey League dedicated to raising money and awareness toward cancer research as one of our benefactors from the sale proceeds of the books. Hockey has been a big part of out family life. Danny is now a squirt select players, Nicki earned her coaching certification last season and I have been a huge follower of the game since being a fan of the Broad Street Bullies in the 70’s.

Locally the Columbus Blue Jackets have been very active in the cancer community. When I was in treatment, we were invited to a special breakfast with the players, got the chance to sit in the penalty box during warm ups and the team has raised a lot of money for pediatric cancer with their Hats for Heroes program.

All of these endeavors along with other fundraising efforts like 50-50 raffles during the game for youth teams and their reading incentive program “The Book Jackets” will likely take a hit during the lockout.

A lot of this will be overlooked when fans bemoan the utter insanity of a so-called major sports league cancelling all or at least a major portion of their season for the second time in eight years.  Hopefully people will step up in other ways to help fill the void. Now I just have to figure out some other excuse to get my friends stand out in the cold and drink beer with me. Any ideas?

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