(pictured, 39 NHL players faceoff for RBC Play Hockey Charity Challenge)
The Mattamy Athletic Centre played host to a charity hockey game on Wednesday evening. With two teams captained by Montreal’s PK Subban and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos taking to the ice, a sellout crowd of 2,600 was on hand at the site of the former Maple Leaf Gardens to witness the only NHL-calibre hockey played in Toronto since the start of the three-month-old lockout.
The real winners were the NHLPA Goals and Dreams Fund and RBC Play Hockey in support of grassroots hockey initiatives in Canada. $100,000 was raised between the two charities.
But on a night when Dion Phaneuf should have been facing his former teammates in Calgary instead of playing essentially a non-contact exhibition game, the mood in the building was tempered by the ubiquitous legalese of “decertification” and “disclaimer of interest” that has repulsed hockey fans across the globe.
“Anytime you are preventing the fans from watching the sport that they dearly love – which provides the business that we are involved in – it’s not a good thing,” said NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr. “Hopefully (the lockout) will be over soon, and that’s what were trying to do.”
Fehr stated that no future talks between the NHLPA and the NHL have been scheduled.
Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul had difficulty hiding his disappointment at not being able to suit up for NHL games after a brief stint in the KHL. “When I left Russia I really thought we were over the hump, and things were going to get done,” said Lupul. “Now we’re kind of at one of these standstill where we’re not talking. There’s not going to be a deal done until we are sitting across a table talking to each other.”
The lockout enters its 96th day on Thursday.
Rob Del Mundo is the author of Off The Post, and is a regular columnist at TMLfans.ca
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