While wanting to get a deal reached so they can return to their regular jobs with their regular teams, NHL players have to find ways to get themselves in shape in the mean time by playing the game they love regardless of where and at what level. Last night, many of the locked-out players took part in a charity game to help raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
The game, which took place at Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Boardwalk Hall, featured Team New York versus Team New Jersey, which the former won by a 10-6 score.
In what was called “Operation Hat Trick”, Rangers’ goaltender and reigning Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist made 57 saves to backstop his team to victory.
James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins led the way for Team New York scoring four goals while Brad Richards of the Rangers and Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers captained their respective teams while both organizing the event.
The game itself grew a great turnout. The prices of tickets ranged from $20 to $100 and organizers had no problems generating interest. The event was sold out as it drew its capacity of 10,792 hockey-hungry fans. So dire is the hockey famine among fans that throughout the evening, they chanted, “We want hockey! We want hockey!” while calling for the firing of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman along the way.
The players’ game-used equipment will be autographed and auctioned off in addition to the proceeds, which includes an extra $20,000 from the NHLPA, going to the American Red Cross, the Empire State Relief Fund and the New Jersey Hurricane Relief Fund.
Overall, Operation Hat Trick was a success as fans were able to forget about the frustrations of the lockout even for a few hours. The fans were able to enjoy seeing some of their favourite players take to the ice – all for a great cause.
Photo: Courtesy of The Press of Atlantic City / Ben Fogletto