ATLANTIC CITY -- The 2013 NHL All-Star Game may have been canceled on Friday afternoon, but it'll get a good replacement when 32 NHL players, many of them former All-Stars, take the Boardwalk Hall ice for Operation Hat Trick benefitting Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.
The game didn't start as a charity game. Todd Fedoruk, one of the chief organizers of the event, said Friday that different pockets of players practicing with one another in the New York and Philly areas wanted to get a little more competitive in their training and had planned a get together. But once Hurricane Sandy hit the area, the event "took a life of its own" and turned into the veritable all-star game that will hit the ice on Saturday night.
The game is sold out -- over 10,000 people will pack the arena on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, with all proceeds benefiting the New Jersey Hurricane Relief Fund, the Empire State Relief Fund and the American Red Cross. There will be no television broadcast but 97.3 ESPN will broadcast the game over the radio in South Jersey and via an online audio stream. We'll also be running a live game discussion with running commentary.
If you're going to the game, it's advised to arrive early as long lines at will call are expected. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the game begins at 7 p.m. It will be a full 60-minute game, the only difference being that no power plays will be awarded. Penalty shots will be awarded for each penalty.
Former NHL ref Kerry Fraser (and his hair) will officiate. Fraser, an Ontario native, is another guy with local ties. He lives in South Jersey and his last game as an NHL ref was the Flyers vs. Rangers season finale in 2010.
Team New Jersey, which consists of many members of your Philadelphia Flyers and is captained by Scott Hartnell, will be coached by Rick Tocchet. They'll wear white jerseys with the Operation Hat Trick logo on the front, black trim and orange lettering.
Team New York, captained by Brad Richards of the New York Rangers, will be coached by Vinny from MTV's Jersey Shore. Seriously. They'll wear blue jerseys with the Operation Hat Trick logo on the front, white trim and red lettering.
Full rosters for each team:
Team New York
Forwards: Brad Richards, Bobby Ryan, Corey Perry, Daniel Alfredsson, James Neal, Ville Leino, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Jeff Halpern, Arron Asham, Matt Martin.
Defensemen: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Steve Eminger, Mike Komisarek.
Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist.
Team New Jersey/Philadelphia
Forwards: Scott Hartnell, Steven Stamkos, David Clarkson, James van Riemsdyk, Simon Gagne, Jody Shelley, Wayne Simmonds, Justin Williams, Daniel Carcillo, Steve Downie.
Defensemen: Andy Greene, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, P.K. Subban, John Carlson.
Goaltender: Martin Brodeur.
It's expected the game will have a bit of an offensive feel, much like an All-Star Game. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sammy Hagar will donate $1,000 for each goal scored in the game. His beach bar in Atlantic City was ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
Organizers will bus in 150 displaced families and first responders from The Rockaways in New York City to watch the game. Lauren Hart will sing the National Anthem, and because we can never fully avoid the lockout even on a night like this, NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr will speak with union members prior to the game.
Follow along with our StoryStream for the most comprehensive coverage of Operation Hat Trick.