“Champs for Charity” Recap

The episodes in life that last so many years in memory are often measured in fleeting moments as they happen. — Steve Summers, The Patriot-News

Usually, this quote sums up a championship performance (Originally written for the perfect playoffs of the 1988 Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears). But for one but for one night, this phrase defined one game.

With the NHL announcing that games would be cancelled through November 30, hockey fans are starting to get increasingly frustrated, and with the possibility of the NHL’s 2 signature events, the Winter Classic and All-Star Game, possibly getting cancelled, these are rough waters testing the fan’s patience to wait and see what happens. Fast forward to a few weeks ago. San Jose Sharks forward Adam Burish wanted to invite some of the best players in the NHL to a charity game in Chicago. His former Blackhawk teammates; the ones he won a Stanley Cup with in 2010, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Jonathan Toews tossed their hat into the ring. So did former teammates, Winnipeg Jet Andrew Ladd, Washington Capital Troy Brouwer, and Florida Panther Brian Campbell. And thus was born Champs for Charity, with all proceeds from the game benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. Burish’s teammates formed the Chicago All-Stars, joining Park Ridge native, Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson and  On the other side, representing the World All-Stars, were current Blackhawks Jamal Mayers, Dan Carcillo and Sheldon Brookbank. Anaheim Ducks star forward Bobby Ryan, Carolina Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen, and multi-million-dollar Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter. There were celebrity coaches helming both benches; former Chicago Cub/Texas Rangers pitcher Ryan Dempster (clad a la Don Cherry) helmed the World All-Stars bench, and Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould coached the Chicago All-Stars. The game stirred buzz around the area, and when night fell at the home rink of the Vancouver Canucks’ American Hockey League affiliate Chicago Wolves, the venerable Allstate Arena, nearly 12,000 fans, mostly clad in Indian Head sweaters, were treated to a night they’ll never forget.

The game was played under “All-Star Game rules”, with every penalty resulting in a penalty shot. Once “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung, you just close your eyes, and you’re not at the former Rosemont Horizon. You’re at the Madhouse on Madison. And once the puck dropped, it was everything that was good about hockey…and then some. The aura inside Allstate Arena felt like a glorified Friday night Beer League game…and it was! It was high scoring, and this game also showed a little flair from exhibition hockey shows like the Old Timers’ Challenge or the Flying Fathers. You usually don’t see celebrations like Patrick Kane, Jim Vandermeer, Patrick Sharp, and James Wisniewski playing a game of human bowling or Adam Burish, Brian Campbell, Joe Corvo, Andrew Ladd, and Troy Brouwer do the “rowboat”, or Adam Burish pulling off a Ned Braden/Magic Mike after a goal. And hey! Since this game is in Chicago, it wouldn’t be a game without Ice crew girls. As I mentioned in my previous post, since the current Blackhawks Ice Crew was locked out of this event, we had 4 Ice Crew alumni clean the ice. here’s a pic from Chicago sports/entertainment personality Elliott Harris:

left to right: Paige Winkels [crew member, 2008-10] , Ashley Lobo [crew member, 2008-10], Ryan Dempster, Colleen Dwyer [crew member, 2006-10], and Jennie Tornabene [crew member, 2003-09]

Okay, now back to where i was: there was one fight in the game: and it was instigated by Dan “CarBomb” Carcillo on Ryan Dempster. Since it was under “All-Star Game rules”, the following penalty shot resulted in a goal. The penalty shot was scored by Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom. (Take that, Marty Brodeur!) When regulation time ended the game, the game was tied at 15-15. For Chicago, Patrick Kane scored one-third of those 15 goals. That feat earned him Game MVP honors. Skip the overtime…this game will end in a shootout! In the 5-on-5 trick shot competition, Kane made history repeat itself by repeating last season’s shootout goal of the year. In the end, a current Blackhawk spoiled the Chicago All-Stars of winning when he got one past Craig Anderson. How did CarBomb celebrate the win? Much like growing a moustache for the 2010 Winter Classic in honor of Dave “The Hammer” Schultz, he stole the celebration made famous by Dave “Tiger” Williams: he rode his stick to the delight of fans.

But in the end, it was all about giving back. Adam Burish’s goal for this charity game was to raise $250,000. He didn’t just meet the goal, he exceeded it, raising $323,000 for the Ronald McDonald House of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana. And as the handshakes were exchanged and the players saluted the crowd. it was somewhat of a bittersweet moment, knowing that this game could be the closest we have to a NHL game for a while, some fans stayed to maybe get an autograph from their favorite players, but most of the players departed the arena by a chartered bus to a after-party at Paris Club Restaurant in Downtown Chicago. So in closing, this simple phrase describes the night in general.

In minutes, this won’t last very long, but the memories sure will. — Mike “Doc” Emrick

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