From The Stands: Rock out the Lockout a smashing success

The members of the NHLPA that participated in the charity game held a pre-game autograph session. (Photo by Timothy Hooker for MiHockey)

Timothy Hooker is a Michigan resident and founder of Pure As Pond Ice, a charity organization created to help underprivileged children experience the game of hockey. Hooker was one of the 4,500-plus hockey fans who attended ‘Rock out the Lockout’ in Windsor – here was his impression from the NHLPA-produced charity event.

By Timothy Hooker -

Stars from around the National Hockey League gathered last Saturday evening to host an all-star charity game – named “Rock out the Lockout” – in front of over 4,500 people at the WFCU Centre in Windsor to benefit the SPARKLES From Above foundation, a local non-profit organization that assists children with cancer and their families in need.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Marc Crevier, founder of Sparkles and coordinator of the charity game. Crevier told me the following:

“This game was for those starving fans who wanted to see professionals in action again. All the players came out on their own dime to show they’re real guys, they donated their time and money to come for a great cause. Steve Ott, Shawn Horcoff and Dan Cleary were the ones who really wanted to organize this, especially ‘Otter’ in his hometown. So they contacted players from around the league and it snowballed form there. We had a great turnout.”

Hooker with the Red Wings' Darren Helm

In total, 38 NHL players participated.

Before the game, hundreds of passionate fans stretched an impressive line around the outside of the arena waiting for pre-game autographs. The scene was full of enthusiasm and excitement. “Rock out the Lockout” was the fad of the night; swarms of people wore hoodies, tees and hats with the saying. Walking around the concourse during intermission there was a premiere showcase of NHL jerseys and classic sweaters that came out of the woodwork from fans of all ages.

Several Michigan-born players participated in the game, including the Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon), the Oilers’ Jeff Petry (Farmington Hills). Hockeytown was well-represented, with Cleary, Niklas Kronwall, Jimmy Howard, Todd Bertuzzi, Darren Helm, Cory Emmerton, Jonathan Ericsson and Jonas Gustavsson.

Teams were quite balanced, with Michiganders and Wings playing against each other in what appeared to be an upbeat gentlemen’s game of no hitting and casual backchecking. Bertuzzi got away with a fair share of hooks. Offense was in full force, especially with shootouts that took place in between intermissions, which led to a final score of 17-10. Yet the final score wasn’t the most important number of the night. The players and NHLPA sponsored the event with a donation of $10,000 to the Sparkles Foundation, along with generating thousands of dollars in revenue from ticket and apparel sales.

I think that speaks volumes for the players and fans to remain true to the sport even in the dark days of the lockout. We have to remember why we play the game – because it’s awesome and the relationships that are made make life great.