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Celebrities Hit the Ice For a Good Time, Cause

By Andrew C. Thomas

OPNION EDITOR

It was quite a collection on the ice at the Fleet Center on Sept. 28. In attendance were the living members of the Bruins wing of the Hockey Hall of Fame and an impressive set of celebrities, featuring Tim Robbins, Michael J. Fox, and a surprise appearance by Senator John Kerry. The raucous crowd, louder than any I’ve ever heard at a Bruins game, convinced me that Denis Leary can sure put on a show.

The Fourth Annual Celebrity Hat Trick raised funds for the Leary Firefighters’ Foundation, which was started after a warehouse fire in 1999 killed six Worcester firefighters. The previous three events were held in Worcester; this year, due to popular demand, the event moved to Boston.

Nowadays, celebrity golf tournaments are common -- in fact, Leary’s foundation held one the previous week -- but celebrity hockey games are much rarer occurrences, considering both the safety of the celebrities and the skill needed to play hockey respectably. And it was certainly respectable.

Yes, as you’d expect, the game itself was nothing special (and very high scoring, with a final of 18-10 for Team EMC over Team MasterCard), but it was the little things throughout that made it fun to watch. For example, I never knew that John Kerry was such an imposing man until I saw him cross skatepaths with hall-of-famer Pat Lafontaine. While the firefighters in attendance, largely from New York, Boston, and Worcester, garnered much attention for their heroic sacrifices, it was the appearance of Michael J. Fox that brought the Fleet Center to its feet. It took no more than three seconds for the sizeable crowd to rise to its feet when Fox’s face appeared on the Jumbotron, and I suspect that even though it was a bizarre sight -- a 5’5” man standing beside athletes, firefighters and 6’4” Tim Robbins -- no one thought it was less than heroic for him to take part. When he scored a tip-in goal halfway through the first period, the volume went up again.

Yes, the actual scoring in the game was largely from the NHL veterans -- Lafontaine, Cam Neely, and Marcel Dionne for the most part -- but the celebrities certainly held their own, including Leary, who played hockey in high school and captained the winning team.

I’m now thoroughly convinced that Boston is a charitable town, at least on the part of its sports community. The Red Sox proved to everyone this season that they are committed to goodwill; and it would seem that the FleetCenter and the Bruins organization are traveling along the same path.