Rocky Mountain Hockey
Sometimes a lockout actually opens doors.
On Saturday, Dec. 4, dozens of current and former National Hockey League players came to Aspen for a benefit tournament in Aspen. And obviously, as it is hockey season, it wouldn’t have happened if the NHL lockout hadn’t derailed the season.
In addition to the players, several celebrities showed up for the Rocky Mountain Classic, a tournament created by Colorado Avalanche-fan-favorites Adam Foote and Dan Hinote to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Denver Children’s Hospital and Aspen Junior Hockey. Some 400 spectators came out to watch.
The Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes were all represented in the round-robin tournament at the Aspen Recreation Center’s Lewis Ice Arena. The event raised plenty of money for several causes, and it also raised the spirits of some frustrated NHL athletes.
“Definitely these things help out,” Foote said. “It gets the guys together, it’s great camaraderie.”Kids of all ages swarmed the players at every turn, many proudly wearing freshly autographed Avs jerseys and hats. Perhaps the coolest thing about the event was being able to cozy up to the glass at one of the corners and watch familiar faces skate by. “There goes Joe Sakic,” one young fan shouted as the Avs legend circled a few feet away. “Hey, that’s Chris Drury. And that’s Rob Blake. See that? He waved at me.”
Event organizers said they may make the Classic into an annual event.
Aside from Foote and Hinote, Avalanche players Sakic and Blake came to Aspen, as well as former Colorado players Drury, Mike Ricci and Stephane Yelle.
Also making the trip were former NHL stars Paul Coffey, Peter McNab, Marty McSorley and Lanny McDonald. Dennis Maruk, who now lives in Aspen and coaches an Aspen Junior Hockey team, also played. Actor Cuba Gooding Jr. skated and even scored three goals.
Nearly every game went to a shootout, and Phoenix beat Toronto for the championship.
Logging some time in the net for both Boston and Colorado was Aspen midget goalie Cody Hornburg, who impressed some of the elder statesmen on hand for the event.”He’s doing good,” Blake commented from the bench.
Despite being a big star, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen has frequently connected with the young AVSC athletes while training at Aspen Highlands over the years.