Bieksa's Buddies a hot ticket for hockey fans, charity
Oct. 17 game against UBC Thunderbirds sells out quickly
Kevin Bieksa appears off to a hot start in his new-found lockout career as a promoter and fundraiser.
His charity hockey game, to be played Oct. 17 at UBC, sold out in less than two hours — all 5,000 seats gone at $20 apiece (plus service fees) Saturday morning. He was clearly delighted with the response. It will be his team, Bieksa’s Buddies, against the UBC Thunderbirds.
“I initially heard it was sold out in 90 minutes, then after that I heard 20 minutes,” Bieksa said Tuesday after another lockout skate at UBC. “Regardless of what it is, it was very impressive and I’m happy that it sold out so quickly. It shows the passion of the community here and how much they miss hockey. We’re looking forward to putting on a good show for them.”
Ticket revenue will bring in $100,000 for three Bieksa designated charities — Canuck Place Hospice, Canucks Autism Network and Canucks Family Education Centre — and Bieksa figures he can raise even more through other initiatives related to the game.
“We’ll have some memorabilia, a 50/50 draw and we’re thinking about doing an online auction leading up to the game for jerseys and some other memorabilia,” he said. “So we’re looking to make over $100,000.”
Bieksa admitted it seemed a little odd to be supporting charities with a direct Canuck link when, as a locked out player, he is not permitted inside Rogers Arena or to do any team-related functions. It was simply a matter, he explained, of continuing to support charities he has worked with in the past.
“I know once all the charities were read out, it was Canuck this and Canuck that,” Bieksa said. “For me, it didn’t really have so much to do with the Canucks. I’ve been in this community here for eight years now and other than the Autism Network, the Hospice and Education Centre are two charities I’ve supported for a long time. Even if I was traded tomorrow, I’d still support them.
“I’ve been to the hospice several, several times and I love the people who work there. They do a great thing regardless of their affiliation with the Canucks. The Autism Network the same thing and, with CFEC, my wife has been volunteering there for a while and she says great things about it.
“So we’ll look past the Canuck thing,” Bieksa added. “These are three charities we’ve been directly involved with so that’s why I wanted to give back to them.”
All participants will be obliged to take care of their own insurance and expenses if they are coming from out of town — “kind of everyone’s individual donation,” Bieksa said — and if the event is a success, he said he may stage another one at a larger venue.
The Oct. 17 game will have two 20-minute periods of running time and a third period that will be either running time or stop time. At the conclusion of the contest, a shootout will take place. As previously announced, Bieksa’s father, Big Al Bieksa, will be the referee.
“Don’t be surprised if I’m in the penalty box at one point even if I don’t deserve it,” quipped Kevin.
He also doesn’t expect too much backchecking either.
“It’s not playoff hockey,” he noted. “It’s a charity game and, more than anything, it’s entertainment. I’m encouraging guys to be creative out there, have some fun and don’t backcheck too hard. So for the Sedins, just play your normal game ... be creative but don’t backcheck.”
Bieksa is leaning on a group of five to help him stage the game: Mark Slavin, the Easton hockey equipment rep for Western Canada, Debbie Butt of Canuck Place and UBC athletic department staffers Dan Elliott, Mike Ikeda and Leon Denenfeld. Slavin and Butt were the first two people Bieksa contacted.
“I think when you are putting on an event like this and there is money flying around and everything, you want to work with people you trust,” Bieksa said. “Those are the two people I’ve leaned on and, with the help of Dan Elliott, Leon and Mike here at the arena, that’s kind of been our team who have met a bunch of times and coordinated everything.”
Slavin, for one, was more than happy to dig in.
“I’m not quite as busy at the moment,” he said. “I’m just helping Kevin organize things. He’s now realizing how much works goes into it.”
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks have re-assigned Surrey’s Prab Rai and fellow forward Steve Anthony from their AHL farm team, the Chicago Wolves, to Kalamazoo of the ECHL. Also going to Kalamazoo are goalie Joe Cannata and defenceman Adam Polasek ... Abbotsford’s Kellan Tochkin has been sent to the Central League’s Missouri Mavericks ... The Wolves open their 2012-13 regular season Saturday in Chicago against the Rockford IceHogs. They will be in Abbotsford to play the Heat Oct. 19-20 .... The Wolves were 2-1-0-1 in four AHL pre-season games.
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