A group of gritty enforcers and fast-skating forwards took the ice Saturday to raise more than $30,000 for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Several generations of Detroit Red Wings stars and other NHL standouts played a benefit game against the Detroit Moose at Canton's on Saturday.
The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association, which included former stars such as Igor Larionov, Darren McCarty, Petr Klima, Joe Kocur, Shawn Burr — who has been battling leukemia — and journeyman player Bryan Smolinski, defeated the Moose, 10-3, but what was on the scoreboard was less important to the players than the cause behind the game.
Derek Fowler, a Canton resident who captains the Moose, steers his team toward charitable efforts. Fowler formed the team in 2002, one year after losing two friends in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, with a primary purpose of helping those in need.
The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association has been in service since 1959, raising more than $4 million for various charities during that time.
The NHL alums were happy to help the cause by competing against the Moose, a partnership the team has enjoyed since 2002.
"It's been great," former Red Wings enforcer Joe Kocur said. "Derek Fowler's a huge part of the Moose (and) a great fundraiser."
Kocur for a 9/11 tribute in September 2011 against Ameriprise Financial and the players previously have participated in fundraisers and played charitable games both on the ice and on the softball diamond.
Kocur, who became known in Detroit for his knack for dropping the gloves early in his career and serving an integral role in ending the New York Rangers' 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994 before returning to Detroit to help end the Red Wings' 42-year title drought in 1997, is no stranger to charitable causes as a member of the Red Wings' Alumni Association.
"We play a lot of games, a lot of charity games for the alumni," he said.
"(The alumni) go above and beyond," Fowler said of his on-ice opponent. "Words are not enough to say how much we enjoy working with them."
The cause for Saturday's event hit home for the Moose — Fowler's teammate Brandon Malinowski suffers from juvenile diabetes.
Fans packed the bleachers at Arctic Edge for an up-close look at their favorite former NHL players, before many joined the teams after the game for a private reception at nearby to dine and drink with the Red Wings alums and Moose players while watching the Detroit Lions' playoff game.