SUN Hockey Pool

Old-timers a spirited bunch

Former NHL star Doug Gilmour battles Chad Power for the puck during a benefit game between the...

Former NHL star Doug Gilmour battles Chad Power for the puck during a benefit game between the London Police and the NHL all-stars in London, Ont. Monday, Feb. 7, 2005. (London Free Press/Morris Lamont)

JIM KERNAGHAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

The dressing room banter is as colourful as it was in their competitive days, but the hockey stars of yesteryear are kinder and gentler.

Oh sure, Gilbert Perreault, Steve Shutt, Mark Napier, Doug Gilmour and the rest had some rather pointed comments about Dale Hawerchuk getting waylaid on Highway 401 as a result of putting the wrong fuel in his vehicle.

And there were some comments about how Perreault might divvy up the proceeds if the team were to win the lotteries he invests their two bucks in each week. And how he differentiates the team ticket from his personal one.

"Hey, I'm the oldest guy here and I gotta collect the money -- that's a rookie's job," the former Buffalo Sabres puck wizard complained with a hurt look on his face.

Naturally, as Perreault's deft stickhandling touch abandoned him when he spilled a box of popcorn on the locker-room floor, it was open season.

The Oldtimers Hockey Challenge team, which played the Law Enforcement Torch team at Thompson arena last night in its second fundraising stop of the winter, presented a cheque for $103,557 to the Special Olympics.

"We played in Windsor and we'll be going to Oshawa, Barrie, Kitchener, Hamilton, St. Catharines and Newmarket," said Mark Napier, who acts as GM, lining up the ex-NHLers and, along with Jimmy Mann, getting the team for charity games.

"We'll be going to the major cities in Western Canada in March, where we'll add guys like Tiger Williams and Bryan Trottier." Napier turned pro at 17 with the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association before making his NHL name via Stanley Cup victories with Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers.

Naturally, all the old-timers had a view on the current lockout. Most expressed disappointment.

If writers are tired of writing about it and readers of reading about it, the guys who weren't around when the big dollars came down are tired of talking about it.

Still, they had their views on how the impasse could be solved. Some felt there should be pay equity right through all teams in the league at whatever established levels. Some felt the players should offer the 24-per-cent wage cut they tendered, and the league should offer a million-dollar incentive to the players who win each playoff round.

It was suggested to Perreault, who soared for Buffalo and Team Canada, that he would be worth $12 million a season in today's market.

"I'd play one season," he replied.

"I'd play half a season," said Napier.

"Funny, you don't look Russian, Napier," someone said.

The wisecracks continued in a room and onto the ice where, joined by tenor Michael Burgess in Oldtimer's gear and former NHL ref Ron Hoggarth, they took shots on goaltender Warren Skorodenski.

The London Knights' Corey Perry and Danny Syvret were among the more thrilled people in the house after police Chief Murray Faulkner insisted they meet the team before the game. The old-timers stood in the dressing room and applauded them.

But back to the kinder, gentler part. There are a lot of guys on this team with championship rings. Mike Krushelnyski was asked to see the Stanley Cup ring he got as an assistant coach and his Toronto Maple Leafs ring as Norris Division championship, along with his Edmonton Oilers top newcomer ring. He borrowed Craig Muni's Edmonton ring to show the difference, adding that only one other ring was awarded -- to Londoner Craig MacTavish.

Both Muni and Krushelnyski spoke quietly and showed the rings surreptitiously.

"Some guys in the room don't have any rings," Krushelnyski explained.


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