NHL old-timers whip rockers in 'Juno Cup'
The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, April 5, 2008 2:15PM EDT
CALGARY - It was a squeaker of a game, but NHL's greats came out on top following a fast-and-loose hockey contest against musicians including Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy, Sloan's Chris Murphy and singer Tom Cochrane in the annual Juno Cup.
Good-natured rivalry saw members of each team engage in some minor tussles and trash talk, with the hockey veterans edging out the Rockers in a score of 16-5 with a final goal that sneaked in just before the buzzer Friday night.
"The professionals are sort of mean-spirited people and they took advantage of these poor Rockers," goalie and Blue Rodeo singer Greg Keelor complained afterwards.
"They ran up the score and they played with them like it was cat and mouse. And they take great happiness in watching us struggle and suffer, so it was a little cruel."
Of course, no mean spiritedness came from the Rockers, added Keelor, who dodged a barrage of attempts at the net from hockey stars including Paul Coffey, Bob Probert and Mark Napier.
"We're not capable of it because we're not good enough," Keelor admitted. "We're desperate just to stay up."
Legends including Lanny McDonald and Doug Gilmour drew some of the biggest cheers from an enthusiastic audience that only half-filled the Saddledome Corral.
But McDonald won special kudos in a unique skills competition that had him attempt to match Cuddy's vocal chops on the Blue Rodeo hit, "Try."
The singing contest had the white-haired hockey hero taking centre ice to warble through the love ballad, hitting few of the actual notes but scoring big with the fans.
Later, McDonald said he had spent the afternoon practising, but stopped when his son interrupted him to say he shouldn't bother rehearsing because he wasn't that good.
Jokes aside, McDonald admitted he was nervous having to sing after a seasoned performer like Cuddy.
"I mean, that's a voice to die for," McDonald said. "Our family's been Blue Rodeo fans forever and how do you follow that?"
The skills competition earned the Rockers several much-needed points that helped vault them to a near-win. But in the end, it was a fifth consecutive victory for the NHL Greats, which saw McDonald reunite with championship teammates Gilmour, Colin Patterson, and Jamie Macoun for a two-period match.
The hockey legends brought Calgary its only Stanley Cup championship in 1989.
The annual celebrity fundraiser is in support of MusiCan, a charity that helps fund school musical instruments and scholarships.
The Juno Awards air live in most parts of the country Sunday on CTV.