By Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - For Kim Houston, Tuesday will be more than just about Sidney Crosby.
Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby takes part in hockey practice in Pittsburgh, Wednesday, April 13, 2011. Followers of the game of hockey are known to rattle off statistics on goals scored and penalty minutes, but a new study of NHL concussions introduces a more sobering set of figures and charts to fans on the consequences when their hockey heroes. like Crosby, take hits to the head. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Gene J. Puskar
No question, Cole Harbour’s NHL superstar will be the big draw at the Phoenix Night of Champions fundraiser, where 13 Nova Scotian Stanley Cup champions will tell their stories inside the Halifax Metro Centre.
But Houston, the event chair and a former NHL scout, is also stoked about the chance to hear tales rehashed from the first ever NHL coach to come out of the Maritimes, 77-year-old Al MacNeil.
“Think about what he’s seen and accomplished,“ Houston said of the North Sydney native who served as Montreal Canadiens head coach, assistant coach and director of player personnel during their glory years thoroughout the 1970s.
“He’s probably got a gazillion fascinating stories about so many players and teams.”
Mixed in with the story telling will be plenty of auction items up for grabs, from a women’s diamond ring, to autographed jerseys courtesy of Jonathan Toews and Hall of Famer Al MacInnis, to a dozen Halifax Mooseheads tickets.
According to Houston, none of the participating players, coaches, scouts and executives, including Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean, hesitated to participate.
Money raised will go to the non-profit organization, which through several social programs offers a helping hand to some of the city’s most challenged youth
“I think the guys understand the cause and know what it’s all about,” said Houston. “They know they’ve been very fortunate with strong family support. They feel an obligation to give back.”
Depending on how the evening unfolds, Houston said it could be an every other year event.
“It should be interesting, some of these guys have never met each other. It will be a special night for many of them. It’s a cause worth celebrating.”
Besides Crosby and MacNeil, the other participating players are David Andrews, Dennis Bonvie, Joe DiPenta, Al MacIsaac, Paul MacLean, Mike McPhee, Brad Marchand, Jon Sim, Colin White, Darrell Young and Wendell Young.