Beezer gearing up for Roger

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:53 AM ET

The Beezer hasn't had his goalie pads on lately, but John Vanbiesbrouck is ready to hit the ice to help "Raise the Roof for Roger" tonight at the Corel Centre.

With free-agent Rangers centre Eric Lindros and 29 former NHLers in the lineup, the Esso 3-on-3 Hockey Classic will take place to help raise money for Roger's House -- a pediatric palliative care unit being built at CHEO in honour of late Senators assistant coach Roger Neilson.

GALLEY, MARSH TO PLAY

While Lindros will be a part of Roger's All-Stars in the four-team tournament, he'll have talented company. Vanbiesbrouck, Steve Larmer, Kirk Muller, Gary Leeman, Brad Marsh and Gary Galley will be among the participants.

"I usually skate as a forward on the odd Wednesday night so this could be interesting ... it could be really interesting, but it's also going to be a lot of fun," Vanbiesbrouck, 41, said yesterday from his Sault Ste. Marie home.

"This is an opportunity to help his spirit live on. If he were here, he would appreciate everything that everybody is doing to help his legacy live on. He was just a tremendous man who touched a lot of people along the way."

There won't be many players on the ice tonight who knew Neilson better than Vanbiesbrouck. The two first crossed paths with the Rangers in 1990, They were also together for stops in Florida and Philadelphia.

"I really got to know Roger when he put me through his first fitness test in New York. That was really tough," said Vanbiesbrouck, who retired in 2001-02 following a 20-year NHL career which included a Vezina Trophy win in 1986 with the Rangers. "The one thing about Roger was he treated everybody fairly and that's all you want.

"He was a different guy. A little peculiar because he paid so much attention to detail. But that's what made him an innovator. The one thing I liked about him as a coach was he always prepared and I was big on preparation as a player."

The opening ceremony begins tonight at 6:35, followed by the puck drop at 7.The final is set for 9:30. Tickets are $10.

ICE CHIPS: The Hockey News will be going from a weekly to a twice-monthly publication until the NHL has a new CBA in place. An announcement will be made in the next issue.


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