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Devils host 11th annual Charity Golf Classic

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Martin Brodeur swings away at Wednesday's outing.
The Devils held their 11th Annual Alumni Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday, hitting the links at the Upper Montclair Country Club in Clifton to raise money for New Jersey charities.

The event drew many members of the Devils’ family, including current players Martin Brodeur, Jamie Langenbrunner and Zach Parise, and past players like Greg Adams, Dave Lewis and Craig Wolanin.

“It’s a great chance for the alumni to associate with our fans and meet some of the current players as well,” said Alumni Association director Bruce Driver. “Bottom line, it gives us the opportunity to raise a lot of money for charities that we end up working with throughout the season. We have a scholarship program for senior high school hockey players in the state, and we play charity hockey games – between eight and 10 every year – and that allows us to spread money to many charities in New Jersey.”

Proceeds from the Golf Classic touch many lives in the Garden State. Initiatives like the scholarship program support New Jersey students academically, while also helping to grow the game locally.

“I was going to mention all of the different charities that we’ve raised money for at our charity hockey games, but there’s a list of about 45, so I’d be standing there a long time naming them all, and that’s really only within a seven-year period,” Driver said.

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner knows a thing or two about swinging the clubs. The scratch golfer took a summer trip to Scotland with Andy Greene to play at historic courses like the Old Course at St. Andrew’s.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Langenbrunner said. “Some of the old players, I was fortunate enough to play with these guys coming back. I played with them either here or in Dallas. There’s quite a few of them around usually and it’s always fun to see those guys again and to interact with some of the fans is always a lot of fun.”

Co-Owner Michael Gilfillan with Brian Rolston.
If Langenbrunner has the best golf game on the team, Martin Brodeur isn’t far behind.

“It’s always fun, playing golf for me, I do it every day so it’s kind of nice to do it with somebody else and not be playing with Jamie for a change,” Brodeur joked.

One of Langenbrunner’s former Dallas teammates in attendance was Greg Adams, who made his NHL debut as a Devil in 1984-85.

“It’s great to come out and see guys that you haven’t seen in a long time,” said Adams, who now lives in Phoenix. “You always feel that when you played for a team, you’re a part of that team and you want to be involved with them. That was really the inspiration for me.”

Adams' 17-year career included a trip to the 1994 Finals with Vancouver. His best memory as Devil was pulling on an NHL sweater for the very first time.

"That whole experience of that first game is something I’ll never forget,” he said.

Driver enjoys the time spent with former teammates.

“We all got together last night, we had dinner in Weehawkin," Driver said. "Just the stories – [scout] Bobby Hoffmeyer and [former Devil] ]Dave Lewis and bringing back stories from their early days, and then their early days here with the Devils. Talking about [former head coach] Tommy McVie and the old days and the 80s and stuff like that. We had a good time last night. It’s nice to have those guys back.”

Zach Parise
For some Devils, golf skills are a work in progress. Zach Parise came prepared carrying a small box of balls as he walked toward the clubhouse.

“I just know that I’m going to lose them, so I figured I’d grab these freebies,” he said.

The event brought out some of the Devils' offseason pick-ups: center Jason Arnott, goaltender Johan Hedberg, and defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Anton Volchenkov. With training camp starting Saturday, Hedberg, who signed as a free agent in July, was ready to drop the puck.

“Very much so,” Hedberg said. “It’s exciting to be a part of this and I’m looking forward to get camp started.”

Ilya Kovalchuk was among the players unable to attend the outing, but the anticipation for his return was a popular topic. After his first contract with the Devils was rejected by the NHL in July, the League approved a second long-term deal on Sept. 4.

Few of Kovalchuk's New Jersey teammates know him as well as Hedberg, who spent four seasons with him in Atlanta.

“Kovy’s coming, which is obviously going to be great,” said Hedberg. “Not only for myself, but for the team and the fans. He’s one of the most dynamic players in the world, so he’s fun to watch.”

The Kovalchuk dispute was officially resolved earlier this week. Now that it’s in the Devils’ rear-view mirror, Chairman and Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek was grateful for a relaxing afternoon on the golf course.

“It’s great, it’s a beautiful day,” Vanderbeek said. “Feels a little like October, which would be the start of hockey, but just to see all the players and have the Kovalchuk situation finally over and done with, it’s a relief and we can finally move forward.”

The Devils home preseason schedule begins on Sept. 25 against the Rangers, and they open the regular season at Prudential Center on Oct. 8, when they host the Stars. With Seton Hall hoops and the addition of the Nets, the Rock will be rocking this fall.

Said Vanderbeek: “We have over 215 or so events already scheduled, and there were promises of many more, so it’s going to be a very busy year at the Pru.”

David Clarkson fired the longest drive of the day at 295 yards. Head coach John MacLean recorded a 285-yard blast. Closest to the pin on hole 8S was Trenton head coach Kevin Dean at five feet. Grant Marshall came in closest on hole 8W at seven feet, five inches from the pin.

Three teams tied for the top spot at 10 under par. Tiebreaks were determined by matching cards. Brian Rolston’s team with Co-Owner Mike Gilfillan finished third, Colin White’s group came in second, and Arnott’s squad took top honors.
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