Former NHL tough guys Tiger Williams, Bob Probert and Kevin Maguire played in some hostile venues over the years, but none like this.
The three ex-NHLers are part of a entourage that left Canada yesterday for a week-long tour of Afghanistan, a trip that is scheduled to feature a ball-hockey game versus the troops.
"We're supposed to play the winners of their tournament," Maguire said. "Mostly, we're going to help lift the spirits of the soldiers.
"I was in the military myself for three years, so I jumped at the opportunity to go over there and say thank you to the troops."
The group of 32 also includes NHL alumni Mark Napier, Stew Gavin, Ron Tugnutt, Lou Franceschetti, Ric Seiling and Dan Daoust; Tom Anselmi, executive vice-president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment; a representative of the Vancouver Canucks ownership group; and veteran broadcaster Brian Williams, now with TSN.
The endeavour has the blessing of the NHL.
"We thought it would be a great way to show our appreciation for all they do for us every day to protect our freedoms and safeguard our way of life," NHL vice president Bill Daly said via e-mail, referring to the troops.
"It is these people who really are the real-life heroes."
Maguire said the idea for the trip came up in the regular season when the Maple Leafs honoured a number of military members before a game at the Air Canada Centre.