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Aspen NHL event an awesome success

Steve Benson
Former Colorado Avalanche teammates Chris Drury, left, now of the Boston Bruins, and Joe Sakic exchange grins as they meet again on the ice during the Rocky Mountain Classic Saturday night at the Lewis Ice Arena. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.
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With the National Hockey League season on hold in the midst of a lockout, dozens of current and former NHL players, and a few celebrities, went head to head in a tournament in Aspen on Saturday night.The Rocky Mountain Classic, which was created by Colorado Avalanche players Adam Foote and Dan Hinote, benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Denver Children’s Hospital and Aspen Junior Hockey.Players representing the Avalanche, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Phoenix Coyotes played in the round-robin tournament in front of about 400 spectators at the Aspen Recreation Center’s Lewis Ice Arena.Foote and Hinote came up with the idea for the fund-raiser earlier this fall, and according to Foote it was well worth the effort.”This is just awesome, it’s great,” Foote said during the tournament. “The people of Aspen have really helped us support our charities and made it a success.”

Foote said the tournament was a big success in more ways than one, as it raised money for charities and brought several frustrated NHL players together for the first time in several months.”Definitely these things help out,” Foote said. “It gets the guys together, it’s great camaraderie.”And everybody is smiling around here – it makes everything worthwhile.”Exactly how much money was raised is not yet known, but event producer Christy Kurowski said it was positive and a good foundation for similar events in the future.”The guys were great, the turnout for the players was great, and the city of Aspen was fabulous,” she said. “It’s something Adam Foote and Dan Hinote want to do every year.”

Several marquis NHL players made the trip, including Avalanche stars Joe Sakic and Rob Blake, and former Colorado players Mike Ricci, Chris Drury, and Stephane Yelle, who now play for Phoenix, Boston, and Toronto, respectively.The tournament also drew former NHL stars like Paul Coffey, Peter McNab, Marty McSorley, Lanny McDonald and Dennis Maruk, who now lives in Aspen and is a coach for Aspen Junior Hockey. Celebrity Cuba Gooding Jr. also made the trip, skating with the Avalanche and scoring three goals.”It was a wonderful good time for everybody,” McNab said. “It shows you what kind of a guy Adam Foote is.”Nearly every game went to a shootout (by design), with Phoenix beating Toronto for the championship. Aspen midget goalie Cody Hornburg also got some time in net for both Boston and Colorado, performing well for both teams. Maruk said Hornburg grew “about a foot” over the summer and he was in awe of how well he played Saturday night. “I was very impressed,” Maruk said “He’s doing good,” Blake said from the bench.

Foote said playing with the stars would have a lasting impression on Hornburg.”This is going to be a big moment in his life,” the Avs veteran said.Maruk said it was great to skate with hockey legends again, and he hopes that the lockout can be resolved.”It’s really frustrating for a lot of them,” Maruk said. “Hopefully they resolve this soon, but it’s important to look at what’s best for the future of hockey.”There could be ways to make both [the owners and players] happy.”Steve Benson’s e-mail address is sbenson@aspentimes.com


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