Former Blue Janssen, current St. Louis players, other
NHLers helping support those in need in wake of devastating storm
By LOUIE KORAC
CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- In the aftermath of the natural devastation that was uncontrollably forced on the east coast recently, Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was immediately on his cell phone inquiring about his family.
Raised within driving distance from the areas ripped apart by the super storm known as Hurricane Sandy, Shattenkirk's focus quickly zeroed in on loved ones around the New York area.
"My parents (Pat and Barbara) lost power for about four or five days. My oldest brother (Eric) lives in Hoboken (an area that was one of the most affected by the storm)," Shattenkirk said. "He was out of his apartment for eight or nine days before he could even go back. No flooding or anything. We were fortunate that nothing major happened and didn't have anyone else in our family be affected too bad.
"Fortunately, I was able to call my parents (who live 15 minutes outside New York City). They had their cell phones and stuff. Same thing with my brother. I was happy to know he was out of his apartment. He couldn't even get back to his apartment in time before the curfew in Hoboken."
There were several thousands -- if not millions -- affected by the devastation that the storm -- spanning 1,100 miles -- left behind. It affected eight countries but none more so than the United States, specifically the east coast. Estimates are at $50 billion in damages across the areas affected in the US alone, and the Blues are doing their part -- no matter how small it may or may not seem -- to try and help out as much as they can.
Former Blue, native St. Louisan and current New Jersey Devil Cam Janssen, who has a home in New Jersey that was affected by the storm, quickly brainstormed a charity hockey game that will in essence benefit those in the region directly. It will take place Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Hardees IcePlex in Chesterfield. For more information, click the link here (http://www.responderrescue.org/camjanssenfightssandy.html).
The game will feature Blues players Shattenkirk, Andy McDonald, Barret Jackman, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alex Pietrangelo, Brian Elliott, Jamie Langenbrunner, Scott Nichol as well as former Blues Ty Conkin, Jamal Mayers, Janssen, Calgary Flames player and Kirkwood native Chris Butler and others.
General admission tickets are just $20 and there are also VIP tickets, which are $200 and they include VIP entrance and seating, beer and wine, and admission into the after party. Only 100 VIP tickets are available. There is also a silent auction up for bidding to be a team coach. The highest bidder will meet each team's players personally and spend the game on the ice with his/her team.
For Janssen, it was a no-brainer for the idea despite little time to plan accordingly.
"I've been working so hard ... day in and day out on this thing," Janssen said. "I didn't have that much time to put it together. It's stressful, but it's going to be a great cause. It's going to be well-put together and the fans are really going to enjoy it.
"Having a house up there and being a part of the east coast, living out there and knowing people and friends and teammates out there, you see this monster of a storm come through and to see this thing from scratch out in the Atlantic (Ocean) or down in the south and it blew up and destroyed the east coast ... it's a scary thing. People aren't used to this kind of thing up there, and there's nowhere to go. It's such a dense population up there."
It's unfortunate that it came at the expense of a natural tragedy, but for at least one night, it gives hockey enthusiasts a chance to see the game, with the NHL in the midst of a prolonged lockout that has left a bad taste in fans' mouths once again.
"It certainly makes the lockout sound really ridiculous when you think of how well the NHL's done and how well the players have done over the years," McDonald said. "It does put everything in perspective. Hat's off to Jantz for putting something together.
"Jantz had brought it up back when the storm was coming through. He obviously has ties there, and he definitely brought it to everybody's attention that we should get together and do something important like this. It's a lot of work organizing something like this. But I know the guys fully back Jantz and think it's a great idea."
"Talking to a couple people back home, a couple coaches ... they're trying to organize something there," Shattenkirk said. "There just wasn't enough guys around the area to get something going. Once Jantz kind of came up with this idea and started bringing it to fruition, it was something we all jumped on board. Especially to me, it was pretty special to do and be a part of.
"It's amazing when you read articles and see what's happening back in the area, the type of support that's being handed around. People are helping complete strangers out."
Janssen wants to make perfectly clear that the intention is not to just bring any game to the table but one that will be competitive and worth every cent people bring with them. The focus is to help those in need but to also provide area fans with something worthwhile.
"Instead of a recreational or beer league game ... no, I don't want that," Janssen said. "Fans haven't seen a fast-paced, skilled hockey game in a long time with professionals. They haven't. They're craving to see an NHL-caliber game. I'm trying to make that as realistic as possible.
"I just wanted to think of something we could do. We have a lot of guys in town. ... Now that it's a reality, it's a pretty cool thing."
As far as dollar amounts, whatever the game can bring in will be worth the effort. As Shattenkirk said, "Every little bit counts. As cliche as it sounds, if everyone donates a little bit here and there, it all adds up to a bigger picture."
Janssen added: "We were thinking about that, but if it makes somewhat of a difference, then that's all that matters. If people enjoy themselves and they feel happy where their money went ... if it helps those places out a little bit, then we did our job."
And for the players involved, it's a few hours spent not thinking about empty NHL arenas.
"I'm excited to play a game," McDonald said. "We're restricted on numbers here and in practice, you can do as much as you can but we don't have enough guys to play a real game. It'll be fun to do that Saturday night. There's a little buildup to it. It's a good chance to get out and see fans and play a game of hockey."