The tournament, held in partnership with the Boston Bruins Foundation and NHL Alumni Association, saw participating teams earn the chance to play with and against both NHL and Bruins alumni like Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton based on their fundraising efforts.
“This is our fourth year for this event and it’s a great turnout,” said Bob Sweeney, Executive Director of the Boston Bruins Foundation. “The best thing about this event is seeing so many familiar faces — that means we’ve got a lot of people back and that, to me, resonates, because they all believe in what we’re here for, which is Children’s Hospital.”
The weekend kicked off on Friday, April 22, with the Draft Night Party at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Mass., where the NHL alumni were drafted to their respective teams, with the top fundraisers getting to pick first.
It was no surprise when Bourque was selected first overall by Bain Capital, the top fundraising team, who raised $135,00 towards the cause.
Fifteen teams then hit the ice on Saturday and Sunday for the tournament, with championship games on Sunday. Bain Capital had the chance to face off against a team of all NHL Alumni, with Bourque on their squad.
“It’s a great event, and it’s really a powerful way to raise money for a great cause,” said returning alum Bourque. “I play in a few of these across the country. It’s amazing. It’s really a great thing, and for us, you get drafted, you get to spend four games with the same guys over the weekend, and try to make their weekend real special and it usually works out really well and we have a blast doing it.”
“So for us, it’s a no-brainer, and it’s a way to win for everybody, because we enjoy skating still, but we all really enjoy and know the importance of raising money for a great cause.”
In 2015, the tournament was re-named in honor of Corey Griffin, who was one of the event's greatest supporters.
“Corey Griffin was an inspiration for this event,” said Sweeney. “He worked at Bain Capital and [his father] Rob Griffin is a good friend of mine — I went to him and decided I wanted to do this event and do it for Children’s. He said, ‘You have to get my son involved,’ and tragically, Corey passed a couple of years ago, but he was the lead guy right from the get-go for this tournament.”
“Everybody is for it, and Bain has just stepped up to the plate and been unbelievable the last two years, so I can’t thank them enough.”
“It’s incredible,” said Mike Griffin, Corey’s brother and the assistant captain for Bain Capital’s team. “It’s great to see what they’ve done with the money, too, and to see that the funds are being used in a great way, to an unbelievable program and team. It makes the tournament even more special.”
All of the funds go towards the Pediatric Head Trauma Unit at Boston Children’s, a cause that Corey Griffin championed.
“Corey Griffin was a hockey player, he played at Boston College, went on to play at Babson — sport-related concussion was near and dear to his heart, hockey was near and dear to his heart,” said Dr. Bill Meehan, Director of Research for the Brain Injury Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“He started this whole thing, so we’re doing it in his honor.”
Through the four years of the tournament, close to $2 million has been raised to support the care and research of pediatric head trauma.
“It’s a tremendous amount of money, and we’re super grateful for it,” said Dr. Meehan. “It goes to three main places. No. 1, this is the first year we established the Corey C. Griffin Brain Injury Research Fund, where researchers throughout Boston Children’s Hospital who work on brain injuries — they came together at a symposium and presented their best work, and they get to apply for money to fund their research.”
“Second thing, is it funds the Brain Injury Center, which is a center that combines neurosurgery, sports medicine, neurology, neuropsychology, emergency medicine, radiology, basically all of the departments, and they conduct research to help deal with brain injuries, particularly sport-related concussion.”
“Then, the third thing, we started a coalition to get computerized neurocognitive testing — baselines for all athletes throughout Massachusetts at every high school — and that’s launching again this year.”
Bourque and the alumni aren’t just invested in the event — they’re invested in the cause.
“With the concussions and everything with head injuries now, the research and all of the information that you can gather now, it’s better known and we’re so ahead of the game now, compared to five, 10, 15, or even 30 years ago when I started here in Boston, so it’s a good thing and it’s just going to get better,” said Bourque.
“For us, we know where the money’s going and the research and the results and it’s all good, so we have a great time doing it, it’s really a fun weekend.”
Fellow alumni in the tournament included Craig Adams, Andrew Alberts, Bob Beers, Bryan Berard, Kenny Hodge Jr., Reggie Lemelin, Brad Marsh, Wayne McBean, Mike Mottau, Mark Napier, Tom Poti, Dave Shaw, Tim Sweeney, Jason Zent, Al Peterson, Tom Songin and Bryce Salvador, who went through his own intense battle with concussion in the NHL.
“It’s an incredible weekend,” said Anthony Aiello, Corey’s best friend and one of the top fundraisers. “It’s for a great cause. It’s for a problem that’s affecting our sport — a cause that was near and dear to Corey’s heart, and it’s really grown into something that you have guys that are begging to be a part of this tournament, not just to play hockey with the alumni, but to give back to a great cause and to give back to the sport, so it’s really become a special weekend overall.”
The Corey C. Griffin NHL Alumni Pro-Am now marks the largest single event fundraiser for the Brain Injury Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.
“I started playing hockey with Corey when I was 11 years old. He was best friend for my entire life, and he was so passionate about giving back to everybody, but especially to Children’s,” said Aiello. “To do this in honor of Children’s Hospital, especially in his name, it’s personal to me and it’s personal to everybody involved.”
“If you knew Corey for 18 years or met him for 18 minutes, you fell in love with him and you wanted to be a part of what he was a part of, and that’s what this tournament is all about.”