© THE GUARDIAN/Heather Taweel
Capital Honda GM Willard Horne, left, and former NHLer Billy MacMillan helped drop the puck Monday in announcing the Capital Honda Face-Off Against Cancer weekend hockey tournament running Sept. 5-7. The tournament will feature former professional hockey players like MacMillan and hall of gamer Ray Bourque.
Billy MacMillan doesn’t know if he will lace up, but he certainly wants to step up.
The 71-year-old Charlottetown native, who had a good run in the NHL in the 70s, is among an impressive list of former hockey players set to take part in a tournament with a goal to raise more than $100,000 in the fight against cancer.
“I’m going to do what I possibly can do and that is helping out when needed,’’ says MacMillan. “Other than that I don’t know what lies ahead.’’
MacMillan, who played with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Atlanta Flames and the New York Islanders, has felt the powerful body slam of cancer. He battled melanoma four years ago. Then, just last September, he lost his wife, Marjorie, to colon cancer.
“It affects every one,’’ says the soft-spoken MacMillan.
“When I mentioned that it affects people indirectly, I’m thinking of grandchildren losing a grandmother. It has its toll. It leaves many scars, put it that way.’’
Hockey great Ray Bourque has also felt cancer’s sting. He lost both his mother and his father to the disease.
The long-time Boston Bruins defencemen, who hung up his skates after winning a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001, headlines the list of celebrities taking part in the Capital Honda Face-Off Against Cancer weekend hockey tournament Sept. 5-7 at the Cari Complex in Charlottetown.
“For those fighting cancer every day, it’s a constant struggle,’’ said Bourque in a statement. “That’s why I hope Islanders will come out and join a team.’’
The fundraiser will provide Islanders the opportunity to share a weekend with hockey legends and celebrities, including the likes of Bobby MacMillan, Forbie Kennedy, Errol Thompson, Al MacAdam, Don MacAdam, David Ling, Dave “Tucker’’ Flanagan, Brett Gallant and Freddy MacDonald.
Additions to the celebrity lineup will be announced in upcoming months.
Twenty teams of 15 players each are being recruited for the event. The tournament features a celebrity draft that will allow teams to add professional hockey players and local celebrities to their roster of players or to coach their team.
The top fundraising team gets the first pick. Each team is guaranteed at least three games.
Marlene Dorey, director of revenue development with the Canadian Cancer Society, P.E.I. Division, is optimistic the fundraiser will be a winner.
“We know that Islanders love hockey,’’ says Dorey. “The event is generating a lot of excitement...I think the buzz will spread.’’
P.E.I. is the first province in Atlantic Canada to follow in the skates of the Canadian Cancer Society in Alberta where the Face Off Against Cancer fundraiser first hit the ice in 2007.
To register for the Capital Honda Face-Off Against Cancer weekend hockey tournament or to learn more about the fundraiser, visit www.cancer.ca/faceoffpei or call 1-866-566-4007.
An early bird draw for a VIP luxury team package is available for teams registering on-line by June 13.