PIERREFONDS – Certain people in life are more privileged than others. Anytime a community can come together with the goal of helping those in need, it’s always a special moment – especially when that moment takes place on the ice.
Founded nearly 20 years ago, the charitable organization Hockey Helps the Homeless set out with the goal of creating awareness for the growing number of people currently living without homes, using something Canadians from coast to coast hold dear to their hearts – hockey. After starting out small in Toronto, the organization has since joined forces with not just with the NHL Players Association, but also the NHL Alumni Association in an effort to rally more and more people to their cause.
“Since 1996, we’ve raised more than $4.2 million in addition to helping 20,000 homeless people in each Canadian city with an NHL hockey team, like Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, Ottawa and Vancouver,” explained Gary Scullion, executive director of Hockey Helps the Homeless. “Over the course of the upcoming months we’ll also be organizing our first-ever events in Edmonton and Winnipeg, and we’re currently working with the Minister of National Defense to set up one next year in Halifax, where several war veterans currently find themselves living in the streets.”
The event marked the organization’s ninth appearance in Montreal, and the Canadiens alumni have always been more than happy to lend a hand, doing their part to touch the lives of those members of the community currently in need. Vincent Damphousse, Guy Carbonneau, Stephane Richer and Chris Nilan were all on site, along with current members of the Canadiens management team on Friday to join the 12 teams entered in the tournament at the Complexe 4 Glaces in Pierrefonds.
“This is the fifth year in a row that I’ve taken part in this event,” shared Habs owner, president and CEO, Geoff Molson. “Raising funds like this to come to the aid of those living without homes is an extremely important endeavour in our eyes. It’s a lot of fun, but the cause we’re supporting is the most important thing about today. We’re very proud to be a part of this.”
“It doesn’t matter how busy I am, it wasn’t hard to convince me to come out and take part in this event,” agreed Marc Bergevin. “This is the second time I’ve participated after doing it once in 2011. When one of my friends approached me about the cause, I saw that our calendar would allow me to be here today, and I’m very happy I could make it.”
With a goal to raise $200,000 this year, the organizing committee was pleased to discover they had already surpassed that amount on the eve of the event. At publication, Hockey Helps the Homeless had already brought in $220,000, before all the scheduled games were even finished. All funds from the tournament will be donated to local charitable organizations around Montreal. While the games taking place may have all been in good fun, that doesn’t mean a healthy dose on intensity was absent from the proceedings. Every player involved hit the ice with the goal of winning, no matter who the competition may have been.
“It was definitely a little strange playing against my boss, but we did still beat his team 4-0,” pointed out Bergevin, following a shutout of Geoff Molson’s squad.
Molson, on the other hand, seemed a little less happy with the final score.
“I was ready to go with Marc, but he didn’t seem to want to drop the gloves with me,” he joked.
Better luck next time.
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Justin Fragapane.
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