Along with 10,791 other hockey fans, I was in attendance at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall last night as Team Richards defeated Team Hartnell 10-6 in “Operation Hat Trick.”
The Sandy relief event, organized by ex-Flyer Todd Fedoruk, featured nine members of the New York Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Arron Asham, Jeff Halpern, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Steve Eminger.
They were joined by several of the sport’s biggest stars including Steven Stamkos, Martin Brodeur, Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry.
The game had a similar feel to a traditional All-Star game, but instead of being hijacked by offense, this game was dominated by Lundqvist.
The Vezina Trophy winner racked up 56 saves, including four penalty shot denials and many others of the jaw-dropping variety. Lundqvist’s performance was the talk of the town and prompted several awestruck quotes from Hartnell and others.
Though there was no hitting and little shot blocking or defense, the brand of hockey was actually fairly decent. Granted, the fans in attendance were just happy to be watching any type of live hockey, but for a hastily organized charity game, the pace wasn’t bad.
Some other thoughts on the game:
Surprisingly, the fans were relatively well behaved. There were a few attempts at organizing anti-Bettman and “We Want Hockey” chants, but none really caught on and the general sentiment was surprisingly positive.
The venue was ill equipped to handle a crowd of this magnitude; concourses were overloaded, employees seemed overwhelmed and food and beverage lines wrapped around the hallways.
I guess I should have realized it going in, but the building was packed with Flyers fans. I’d say three-quarters of the attendees sported some kind of Philly garb.
Boyle played defense for Team Richards and actually seemed fairly comfortable on the blueline. Boyle does have a history of playing on the back end, but it’s certainly not something we’ve seen in years.
Former Stars James Neal and Brad Richards showed some impressive chemistry as Neal tallied four goals. Too bad he’s locked up through 2017-2018.
Some meaningless observations on the new Rangers we’ve yet to see in blue: Asham looked very quick, Halpern is crafty and Pyatt was invisible.