The National Hockey League lockout has produced an early Christmas treat for area fans.
The WFCU Centre has announced that the facility will play host to an National Hockey League Players Association charity game on Saturday, Dec. 8th.
Jason Toner, general manager of events at the WFCU, told OurWindsor.ca the game came together quickly.
“We just started talking about this game maybe last week,” said Toner. “The thing is, you can’t plan too far out for a game like this because of the current contract situation, but, you still need enough time to try and promote it to fill the building.”
Thus far, almost 20 players have committed to playing in the contest, many with either local ties - or, of local interest.
“We really wanted to keep that local appeal,” he said, pointing out that the game was spearheaded by the Red Wings’ Dan Cleary, along with the Sabres’ Steve Ott and Oilers’ captain, Shawn Horcoff.
Thus far, other players who have similarly committed to participating include the Islanders’ Matt Martin, Ryan Wilson (Avalanche), Todd Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, Cory Emmerton, Darren Helm, Jonas Gustafson (all of the Red Wings), Eric Belanger, Jeff Petry (both from the Oilers), Jamal Mayers (Blackhawks), James Neal (Penguins) Keith Yandle (Coyotes) Brenden Morrow (Stars), Thomas Vanek (Sabres) and Sergei Samsonov (former Bruin).
Toner said the game truly is a bittersweet gift for fans that are currently having to endure a year without their beloved hockey.
“It’s a real catch 22. It’s great to have the opportunity to see these players up close, but it sucks to be an NHL fan without the real games in their normal arenas,” he said. “It’s good for us, though, because people wouldn’t otherwise get to see these players in a smaller arena.
“We all hope to see these players out on the ice with their teams soon. I know I’m waiting to see my (Flyers) but the outlook isn’t looking great.
“That being said, this game will make for a nice treat for fans, especially around the holidays.”
Toner said more information about the game will be released in the coming days, including what charities will be involved and even more NHL players.
For more information, visit the WFCU website.