What began in 1998 as a way to honor local hockey player Eric Fedorin and his fight against brain cancer has now spanned two decades, as the 20th annual Fedorin Cup Charity Hockey Game will take place Saturday, August 26 at THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE.
The game and VIP casino night dinner, presented by the Athletic Sports Fund of America (ASFA), will benefit the NHL's Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.
"It's pretty humbling, to say the least," says Rick Hutchinson, Director of Hockey for The Rinks and president of the non-profit ASFA. "It's pretty amazing. I reached out to all the alumni players that played in the first game, and I invited them to attend the event. Some will play in the game and some will join us on the ice for a ceremony."
The annual event has been a big hit for fans - and players - over the years, and this installment, Hutchinson says, will be one of the biggest. "We're definitely going to do a lot more giveaways and big-raffle items," he says. "In the past, we've mostly done silent auctions. We're going to be doing opportunity drawings and raffles for all kinds of high-ticket items. We're going to raffle off a brand new motorcycle cruiser. Tickets will be $20 apiece, and someone will leave that day with a motorcycle."
One of the most unique aspects of the Fedorin Cup is the opportunity to play. With four spaces available, individuals can bid for a chance to play alongside NHL stars with all proceeds supporting Hockey Fights Cancer. The bidding currently starts at $1,500 and ends at 5 p.m. PT on Thursday, August 24.
The charity game is highlighted by current and past Ducks, as well as other current NHL players and celebrities. Among those confirmed this year are Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Andrew Cogliano and Nic Kerdiles. In addition, former Ducks Todd Marchant, Sean Pronger, Bryan Allen and Kent Huskins are expected to play. "It's like the official kickoff to the NHL season," says Hutchinson. "We have players from all kinds of teams, and they're all together for a good cause. The guys really love the game. It's a good game. Fast paced."
No longer is Hutchinson scrambling to find players to skate in the Fedorin Cup. These days, he says, the players are coming to him. "They always kid with me, and they always ask when the Fedorin Cup will be held. They're asking me if they can play because they see the cause, and a lot of these guys have friends or family that have been affected by cancer. They get to see a lot of guys they haven't seen in a long time. It's that sense of community and family within the hockey community. It's a small world and a pretty neat experience."
Hutchinson says the support he receives from the Ducks has been tremendous. "I can't say enough about our owners, Henry and Susan Samueli, and the entire front office staff," he says. "I work for the team on a Rinks level, but they've seen what I've done and they've really gotten behind it. They are more than happy to promote it. This is something they embrace even though it isn't under their umbrella. They treat it like it's one of theirs."
It will be a "carnival-type atmosphere" outside THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE, according to Hutchinson, complete with music, food, beverages and games. "More than anything, it's a very family-oriented event," Hutchinson says. "We want kids to come out and experience what is going on. As soon as a young person realizes what cancer is, the sooner they can get busy and help- or be aware of the cause. It's a good life lesson for children."
Once inside the facility, fans will have the opportunity to win prizes and be a part of several in-game activities. "Between periods, we're going to have a chuck-a-puck," says Hutchinson. "We will sell pucks like raffle tickets, and fans will throw pucks into a Stanley Cup. Whoever gets closest or gets it in will win $500. We will also do a Mite exhibition game between periods where we have Fedorin Mite kids come out and play against some of the players."
Casino-style gaming as well as a special VIP dinner will take place after the game, with Selanne Steak Tavern catering the dinner. The restaurant's owner/Ducks legend/soon-to-be-Hall-of-Famer/Fedorin Cup veteran Teemu Selanne has been invited to play, according to Hutchinson.
The continued success of the event and the influx of calls he's receiving from players across the country has further inspired Hutchinson. He says his ultimate goal is to have a similar charity-style game in every NHL city. "When I started this, it was to do something for a local guy and try to make an impact in the community and bring cancer awareness," he says. "Over the years, and especially with what happened most recently with losing my brother, it made me sit back and think about how I could take it to another level.
"As I got to know a lot of retired NHL guys that have played in the event, a lot of them aren't just Ducks. They're from all over the country," Hutchinson says. "I realized there was kind of a need for the alumni, to give them something to do and to be a part of something. These guys, when they stop playing, there is kind of a sense of what's next? Some guys will take a job in the front office, but other guys don't. They're always looking for something to be involved in."
With his involvement with Hockey Fights Cancer, Hutchinson says the possibilities are abound. "I thought this could be a great opportunity to take this event to every NHL city so they have a summer/Fedorin Cup-type game," he says. "The teams can get behind it and the alumni can help run it. I thought it was a win-win for everyone. It would bring about a lot of awareness and money to Hockey Fights Cancer.
"Let's do something that is cohesive and makes sense," Hutchinson says. "Maybe the NHL and Hockey Fights Cancer can put their own branding on it. This is a work in progress, but this would be a way to take the Fedorin Cup and do something for the bigger cause."
For more information on the ASFA and the Fedorin Cup, as well as roster announcements and the opportunity to play in the game, visit asfafedorincup.com.
2:30 p.m. - Check in/Pregame party
3:45 p.m. - Pregame warmups
4 p.m. - Player introductions/silent auction
4:15 p.m. - Puck drop
6:45 p.m. - Postgame party and VIP casino night