Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NHLA week Festivities Overview

This past September the NHL Alumni Association was proud to host its inaugural NHL Alumni Week. The three events taking place from 9th to 11th was a great way to bring the Alumni together to share stories, have fun and celebrate the achievements of some of the greats all while raising money for the “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund”.

The week started off with a bang when on September 9th the NHL Alumni Association hosted its second annual “Grapes with the Greats” Wine Tasting Event at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel in Toronto celebrating the one year anniversary of the NHL Alumni Signature Wine Series™ launch in Canada. Dozens of hockey greats including, Ted Lindsay, Gordie Howe, Dennis Hextall and Bob Nevin, attended the event that saw an amazing $2,000 raised for the “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund”.

“It’s great to see our guys out here supporting the Alumni Association and the Wine Series” says Mark Napier, NHL Alumni Association Executive Director. “This is a great event that not only gives the Alumni a chance to catch up over a nice sample of wine, but with it being open to the public it gives fans a chance to meet some of their hockey heroes, all while in support of a great cause”.

The Alumni Wine Series includes 15 bottles of wine bearing likenesses of some of hockey’s legendary players. Proceeds from the sale of the wine will support NHL Alumni Association’s “Hockey’s Greatest Family fund”, which supports former players in need.

More information is available at

On September 10th the NHL Alumni Association hosted its 8th Annual Gala Dinner at the Toronto Airport Marriott Hotel. At this years’ dinner the NHL Alumni celebrated “Man of the Year” Gordie Howe “Mr. Hockey™” , “Keith McCreary 7th Man” Scotty Morrison and the “Ace Bailey Award of Courage” winner to Earle Connor while also raising over $50,000 for the “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund” supporting former players in need.

The spectacular evening featured guest emcee Dave “The Hammer” Schultz who was terrifically funny when recounting childhood stories of watching “Mr. Hockey” dominate the NHL. Mr. Howe tearfully accepted the “Man of the Year” award after his son Murray gave a touching speech about how Gordie came across his first pair of skates growing up in the farm lands of Saskatchewan. Paralympic gold medalist and world record holder Earle Connor gave an extremely encouraging speech describing his determination to get through a lifetime of hurdles and obstacles that comes with being an amputee. To cap off three incredible award winners the NHL Alumni was honored to celebrate Hockey Hall of Fame member Scotty Morrison and the incredible amount of time and effort he has put into helping grow the game of hockey.

“This event seems to get better and better every year and I think that is a true testament to the growing support that we are receiving from Alumni all over the world and the work ethic at the Association”, says Mike Pelyk, NHL Alumni Association Chairman of the Board.
“When we can get Alumni from all different era’s to get together, you can always expect great things”, says Mark Napier, NHL Alumni Association Executive Director. “Watching Kraig Nienhuis play in all the attending Alumni from Johnny Bower to Rob Zamuner and having us all stand on the stage together as a family; that just sends shivers down my spine”.

The week finished off on September 11th, 2009 with the annual NHL Alumni Celebrity Golf Classic at Woodington Lake Golf Club in Tottenham, Ontario. Golfers and Alumni alike had a chance to relax, have some fun and enjoy a beautiful day on the golf course.

Guest emcee P.J Stock from Hockey Night in Canada was a hilarious addition to the evening providing stories that would catch any hockey fans attention.

The always popular “Mini Hot Stove” was yet another great success as Troy Crowder, Todd Hlushko, Bill Derlago all shared stories from their past based on questions from PJ and the audience.

We are happy to report that through the generosity of the participants and Alumni the NHL Alumni Association was able to raise close to $14,000 for the “Hockey’s Greatest Family Fund”.

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