By Harlan Nemerofsky
Ryerson’s Mattamy Athletic Centre just added to its list of high-profile events hosted. With the NHL lockout still ongoing, 30 of the league’s best – including Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf and reigning goal-scoring champion Steven Stamkos – will play in a charity game at the MAC on Wednesday as part of the NHL Players’ Association’s Goals & Dreams fund and RBC’s Play Hockey initiative.
Stamkos will lead a squad against Team Subban, led by Montreal Canadiens’ all-star defenseman P.K. Subban. Forward Phil Kessel and defenseman John Micheal-Liles will join Phaneuf as Maple Leafs participating in Wednesday’s game.
Aware that there had been other charity games organized during lockout seasons, Keith Baulk of Global Spectrum, the entertainment firm which manages the MAC, wanted the NHLPA to at least “consider [the] venue.”
“The NHLPA came to us,” said Baulk, who is the general manager of the MAC. “[But we] did make some initial inquiries to the NHLPA about the potential of some point hosting a game.”
But Baulk said that although nothing happened immediately, the NHLPA came back to accept the offer just a week ago.
“When we met with Keith, we certainly loved the venue,” said Devin Smith, NHLPA director, Marketing & Community Relations. “[The players] are really happy to be playing at Ryerson’s home arena.”
Ryerson Rams defenseman Scott Brown was excited to have some professional players playing at his home arena.
“It’s pretty cool to have some current Leafs, some former Leafs and some big name stars from Toronto coming to hang out at the arena, the Gardens,” said Brown. “It’s a good opportunity for people to come check out the rink, watch some entertaining hockey, and support a good cause.”
Stephanie White, associate director of Ryerson Athletics, said this is likely the biggest ticketed event Ryerson has hosted to date (at the MAC), with tickets to the event having already sold out.
In addition to the aforementioned NHL stars, other confirmed players will include James Neal, Tomas Kaberle, Mike Komisarek, Logan Couture, Kris Versteeg and Niklas Kronwall. The remaining rosters will be announced in the upcoming week.