NHL alums to skate vs. Aspen Trashmen | AspenTimes.com

NHL alums to skate vs. Aspen Trashmen

Todd Hartley

Former NHL standout Ron Duguay, whose pro career spanned more than 10 seasons with the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings, visited Aspen Monday to commemorate the signing of a deal between Duguay’s NHL alumni team and the local Trashmen of Aspen to put on a charity hockey event in February.

The event, called “Big Time Hockey in a Small Mountain Town,” will take place over President’s Weekend, Feb. 19-21, and will include a players’ reception, a game between the Trashmen and the NHL alums, an overtime party, a dinner/auction, an autograph session and a coaching skills clinic for the youth of the Roaring Fork Valley.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Neighbor to Neighbor campaign of the Aspen Valley Medical Foundation.

“We’re very honored to have some of the best players that the NHL has produced in the past coming to Aspen,” said Trashmen player/coach Wily Manering. “And both groups are proud to be doing this for the Neighbor to Neighbor charity.”

Duguay, the captain of the NHL alumni team, first got involved in promoting charity hockey games a couple of years ago at a benefit golf tournament in Vancouver when he mentioned to business partner Robin Wyss that it might be fun to organize a game between Vancouver Canucks’ alumni and Los Angeles Kings’ alumni, headed by Duguay.

The event was a success, and the next year, Duguay returned with a team of New York Rangers’ alums for a second game.

Since that time, Duguay and Wyss have put on five such exhibitions, all for fun and all for charity, in towns like Jackson, Wyo., and Sun Valley, Idaho.

“We like to go to a resort-type area and make it a fun time for the guys,” said Duguay. “It’s nice for us to do this in Aspen. It’s a very desirable location.”

In addition to the money that will be raised for charity, which Manering estimated at $50,000, Duguay said there are some other goals he has for the event.

“We’re trying to promote hockey awareness,” he said. “I know that they’re interested down the line in bringing major junior hockey to Aspen. That gives local kids a goal. Instead of having to leave town to play high-level hockey, they can try to play for the local team.

“For that, Aspen needs the proper facilities and good hockey development. … That’s the two goals of this event: increase awareness and raise money. Those are our goals, too,” he added of his mates on the NHL alumni team.

The final NHL roster for February hasn’t been set yet; invitations go out this coming weekend. But Duguay said fans can probably expect to see such recent hockey world luminaries as Pat LaFontaine, Dino Ciccarelli, Neil Broten and Joel Otto and all-time legends like Phil Esposito and Stan Makita.

“I usually combine NHL alums with celebrities,” said Duguay, “but the Trashmen were more interested in just the alumni. We’ll be playing against a good team, so we’ll need younger alumni. We’ll try to meet their wish list but keep the team strong enough that we win.”

Realizing that his team will be up against some tough competition, Manering has already outlined a strategy to give the Trashmen an edge.

“We’ll keep them out late Friday night, and then we’re gonna get them out skiing Saturday,” he said. “Then it’s high-altitude hockey Saturday night. That’s our plan to slow them down.”

Despite Manering’s confidence, Duguay seemed unfazed. “We never lose,” he said.

But the real winner will be Neighbor to Neighbor, which will use the proceeds raised to aid the needy right here in the Roaring Fork Valley, a fact which Duguay appreciated.

“It’s a win-win situation for everybody,” he said. “At the end of the weekend, we know we’ll have raised a lot of money for charity. It’s a great feeling.”

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