LOWELL, MA – "A full stadium watching hockey players play softball, how can it get any better than that?" former Boston Bruin Jay Miller said of last night's novelty.
In what has become a staple summer event (with all proceeds going to the local non-profit foundation, Celebrities for Charity) on Wednesday evening Milan Lucic hosted his "Rock & Jock" softball game in Lowell at LeLacheur Park.
Bruins defensemen such as Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk attended the event along with Tuukka Rask. Fans also showed up in big numbers as well, selling out ticket packages prior to the event.
"I never expected it would grow to something like this where we have a barbeque and all the VIP tickets are sold almost right away," Lucic said.
"No matter how long the offseason is they just want to see us and participate in anything or any sport that we’re playing," the forward said.
The first Rock & Jock was held back in August 2010, when a young Lucic was looking for a way to give back to the community. Since then it has evolved into what fans and participants alike look forward to each summer.
Rask, who recently took a stellar round of batting practice at Fenway Park, enjoyed the opportunity to compete in front of the fans without being too serious, and mentioned how it always helps to support a cause when the event is fun.
"You know guys do a good job having these kinds of events, doing stuff that people want to do - if it was a chess game or something I’d probably skip that," a smiling Rask joked.
But Boychuk explained what draws the Bruins to step up to the plate when supporting teammates at events like this.
"Anytime a teammate wants you to do something for a charity event you’re more than willing to do it and it just shows what kind of guys we have in the locker room and they stick together no matter what," No. 55 said.
Boychuk didn’t make any bold predictions for his own play on the diamond, but admitted to having played when he was a kid.
"Yup, I had to choose between hockey and baseball," he said, but didn’t promise any "Johnny Rockets" out of the stadium.
His fellow defenseman Seidenberg couldn’t claim the same background in baseball, having grown up in Germany.
"I mean I haven’t played at all growing up," Seidenberg said. "I usually hit my ground balls and steal a couple of bases here and there but for the most part I stuck with soccer growing up."
The fans packed the stadium regardless, just eager to get a look at their Bruins after the long offseason.
"I can tell right you right now half the stands are full so it’s probably going to be a big turnout," Boychuk said prior to the sold-out game. "We have loyal fans and it’s great and they’re always behind us."
Lucic was happy to see his teammates supporting him in his cause, but attributed the event's success to the folks in the stands.
"A lot of this goes to the fans who are willing to come out and contribute to this event and support this event," said the forward. "I can’t thank them enough for making this what it is today."