Former NHLers in Barrie to announce October fundraiser
Preparations are underway for the inaugural Hockey Helps the Homeless tournament, being presented by Freedom 55 Financial in October. Some former NHLers who are helping out the cause dropped by the Flying Monkeys Brewery downtown Wednesday night for an announcement of the Oct. 3 event, taking place at the Holly Community Centre. From left are Mike Gartner, tournament committee member Markku Heino, Bob McGill, Hockey Helps the Homeless CEO Gary Scullion and Mark Osborne. Funds raised from the event will go to Redwood Park Communities and the David Busby Street Centre. Learn more at www.hockeyhelpsthehomeless.com. IAN MCINROY BARRIE EXAMINER
Big-league hockey players will be lacing them up for the city's homeless.
The Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH) tournament — which has criss-crossed Canada since 1996 and featured more than 200 former hockey pros and women’s Olympic team members — is coming to Barrie.
Presented by Freedom 55 Financial, the event will take place on Oct. 3 at the Holly Community Centre and will raise money for the David Busby Street Centre and Redwood Park Communities, organizations that provide programs, shelter, housing and food for Barrie’s homeless.
This year’s tournament will play host to 10 men’s teams, offering participants the opportunity to play alongside their hockey heroes — two pros per team — while raising money in support of the homeless in their community.
Hockey Helps the Homeless was kick-started almost 20 years ago when a group of Toronto businessmen decided to turn an annual industrial hockey tournament into a charitable event aimed at helping the homeless.
Over the years, the likes of Gary Roberts, Kris King, Mike Gartner, Mark Osborne, Theo Fleury, Vincent Damphousse, P.J. Stock, Craig Simpson, Caroline Ouellette, Marie-Philip Poulin and Gillian Apps have lent their support to the tourneys.
Since its inception, Hockey Helps the Homeless has expanded its impact across Canada by raising more than $6 million to help find accommodation for the disadvantaged.
Gartner (Washington Capitals, Minnesota North Stars, New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes), Osborne (Detroit Red Wings, Rangers, Leafs and Winnipeg Jets) and fellow former NHLer Bob McGill (Toronto, Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks and Detroit) stopped into the Flying Monkeys Brewery downtown Wednesday night for an announcement of the Oct. 3 event, where they heard from Hockey Helps the Homeless CEO and president Gary Scullion.
He said HHTH is happy to be coming to a hockey town such as Barrie.
“Until now, all Hockey Helps the Homeless events have been held in NHL markets," Scullion said. "We are thrilled to enter the next phase of our expansion by launching into OHL markets.
"Barrie is a city steeped in hockey tradition, which makes it a perfect launch market," he added. "It’s going to be a great event.”
King said the tourney is a great opportunity to play some hockey, contribute to an important cause and have a big-league experience.
"We all have a lot of fun while helping those in need in our local communities. I look forward to playing in this tournament every year,” said King, who is now senior vice-president of hockey operations for NHL central office.
While the NHL season nears playoff time, HHTH organizers are hoping to ramp up organizational efforts before skates are substituted for golf clubs.
Scullion said with Freedom 55 Financial stepping up as presenting sponsor of the Barrie tournament, he's hopeful other businesses will also embrace the event.
"The success of our tournaments require that the local business community rally around the homeless in the community by sponsoring a team and participating in this amazing one day pro-am tournament," he said. "We also count on the local men's leagues to enter teams."
All skill levels of teams and/or individuals — as well as potential sponsors — who want to take part in the one-day fantasy hockey tournament can visit www.hockeyhelpsthehomeless.com to learn more.
For more information on Redwood Park Communities, visit www.redwoodparkcommunities.com.
For more information on the David Busby Street Centre visit www.busbycentre.ca.