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NHL comes to Vail

Tom Boyd

Rumors of an Adam Foote appearance were creating a big buzz in the valley March 1. The Colorado Avalanche hockey player is among a few NHL stars that may show for a star-studded weekend of hockey which begins Friday night, March 4, at Dobson Ice Arena, and continues Saturday night, March 5, at the Eagle Ice Arena.It’s the 15th year that the Detroit Red Wings Alumni hockey team has come to town to scrimmage the Vail Mountaineers men’s team but with the ongoing work stoppage in the NHL this year, more big names are expected to come to the event than ever before.Foote won’t be coming to the Friday night game, but may show up for the Saturday game. Former Avalanche head coach Tony Granato and current coach Joel Quenneville (who has yet to coach a game), will play for the Mountaineers as they face off against the Wings Alumni both nights.The events are both fundraisers for local youth hockey clubs in Vail and Eagle.”This is what hockey is about when you’re done playing: it’s about giving back,” said Andy Clark, who organizes the event along with local Gary Defina and Detroit legend Dennis Hextall (uncle of the legendary Flyers goaltender Ron Hextall). “It’s the cycle of the sport. This isn’t about supporting a competitive traveling team, this is about youth hockey and getting kids into the sport any way we can.”Another addition to this year’s roster, along with Granato and Quenneville, is Red Army and NHL legend Igor Larionov. The Red Wings and Sharks giant played on the 1980 Soviet hockey team, then became one of the first players to defect to the United States afterward.Along with Larionov, the Mountaineers will have their hands full with two players who just retired in 2003: Mike Krushelnyski and Dave Roberts. Krushelnyski is well-known for his role as a winger on the dynastic Edmonton Oilers’ teams of the 1980s.With two Avalanche coaches (and possibly some players) appearing over the weekend, Clark is hopeful that the Avs will begin to participate in the promotion of youth hockey in the valley.Clark is already working on plans to bring a Red Army alumni team to town next year. With the addition of a few Avalanche players, and perhaps other retired NHL players from around the country, the Vail event could grow to become a very large event. This could give a huge boost to local hockey, Clark said.– TB


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