P.K. Subban and friends tee up to help his adopted hometown
He hadn't even been home from Haiti for 48 hours, and already Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was already on another charity mission.
This time he was in the more familiar surroundings outside Belleville ON, for the Medigas Celebrity Classic.
Now in it's 24th year, the event, once titled the Rick Meagher Celebrity Classic after it's founder, supports children that face physical challenges. It also assists young students in the advancement of their health care studies, during their pursuit of post secondary education.
The event has raised close to $2 million for kids in the Belleville-Kingston-Quinte area in the last near quarter-century.
Rick Meagher got his break with the Habs, after going undrafted and playing college hockey for Boston University.
He only saw two games for Montreal before being traded to the Hartford Whalers. An excellent defensive forward, his best season came with the St. Louis Blues in 1989-90 when he won the Frank Selke Trophy. He retired, after battling injuries, the following season.
The Belleville native never forgot his hometown, as evident by the success of this tournament., which is a sell out every year.
The local Belleville Bulls (OHL), and their alumni, are always willing to donate their time for this cause.Subban and his younger brother Malcom, Bulls alumni and current players respectively, were both on hand.
The Habs defenseman, easily the biggest drawing card on the celebrity list, worked his way through the players, posing for pictures, signing autographs and shaking hands.
"Nobody wants to talk to you Malcolm because you're ugly," P.K. joked with his younger sibling. "P.K. that wasn't very nice," I interjected to which he replied with a devilish grin, "He's used to it."
"Jordan was supposed to be here too, but he's at the Under-17 training camp," the eldest Subban added. The youngest of the Subban brothers was drafted by the Bulls 5th overall at this year's OHL Entry Draft.
"He's actually to be better at his current level than P.K. was at his age," said Bulls assistant coach, and member of my golfing party, Jake Grimes. "We were sure he would have gone fourth or higher, so we're glad we got him."
A host of former NHLers were also on hand. Ex-Habs Stephane Richer and Peter Mahovlich were in attendance and big crowd pleasers. I spoke to Richer briefly, as he signed autographs for the players and other autograph seekers, on being the last Canadiens player to record 50 goals on a season.
"You know it was over twenty years ago," said Richer, who accomplished the feat twice in his career. "But scoring 50 goals for the Canadiens was a huge honor for me.
"This was a nice year too," he added as he signed a card from his Stanley Cup year with the New Jersey Devils. "The NHLPA sends us a copy of every card made of us for our approval."
I had to bite my tongue as the PA announcer introduced Richer as one of ONLY two players in Canadiens history to score 50 goals.
"Sorry, I can't sign anything Team Canada," said Mahovlich, a five-time Stanley Cup champions with the Canadiens .
I quickly tossed a Canadiens puck, intended to be donated later, to a tournament participant who only had a photo of Mahovlich's Game 8 goal on Vladislav Tretiak. It brought a smile to both him and Mahovlich, although I don't think I saw the latter not cracking a smile at any time.
The 64-year-old member of Team Canada '72 would not divulge into reasons why, but it's possibly due to signing contract agreements with a promoter, and the 40th anniversary of the Summit Series approaching.
One of the oldest celebrities at the event, "The Little M" was a good sport in being the target of some Depends jokes during the evening's auction.
The Buffalo Sabres were prominently represented by their alumni, as they have at the tournament for several years. The absence of the late Rick Martin was acknowledged with words from his French Connection linemates Gilbert Perrault and Rene Robert, followed by a moment of silence.
The ladies of the ice, of the figure skating variety, were also represented by 1988 Olympic Silver Medalist Elizabeth Manley and six-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson. Robinson, who is now in broadcasting and municipal politics is the niece of former Canadiens defenceman Gaston Gingras.
As for the tournament, well our crew finished dead last, in a field of 36 and 18 strokes back of the winning team, but we were only off a large pack by one or two strokes. Given only one guy was a course regular and the remainder are lucky to hit the links once every two years, we held our ground, Unfortunately there's no form of Corsi stats to prove it, so you'll have to take our word on it.
My biggest criticism came during the putting contest. After failing to even hit the target board on two attempts, the young lady operating it told me I'd have to do something humiliating if I missed my last shot.
"Isn't he doing that already?," boomed a voice behind me. I didn't even have to look, as I recognized it was that of former New York Islanders and current broadcast booth man Butch Goring.
Goring, known for his trademark helmet during his playing days to go with four Stanley Cups and a Conn Smythe trophy, put his money where his mouth was by winning the contest.
His team finished second to that of Vancouver Canucks alumni Shawn Antoski.
The big winner of course was the area kids, who will benefit from the $122K + taken in this past Saturday afternoon.
You can probably tack on another $10K, from the auction after the tournament, to the day's total.