As the Lightning Fore Charity Golf Tournament concluded on Monday evening, General Manager Steve Yzerman approached the podium and addressed his players, fellow Lightning employees and valued sponsors in a gesture of gratitude regarding their participation in the annual event.
He acknowledged the team’s more-than-respectable start to the 2010-11 season, and although accurate, Yzerman’s message was referring to much more than just what has occurred on the ice in recent weeks.
On Monday, October 25, the entire Lightning organization, including upper management, employees and the entire roster of players, went “All In” for charity as they traded in their hockey sticks and skates for sets of golf clubs and golf shoes to take part in the Lightning Foundation’s annual Fore Charity Golf Tournament at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel.
“It is such a pleasure for us to come out here,” defenseman Victor Hedman said. “Not only is it a great opportunity to get to know some of our fans and our sponsors, but we’re having fun for a great cause.”
Players arrived at 1 p.m. for a shotgun start and were grouped with corporate sponsors before hitting the tee boxes. Each group consisted of four Foundation donors and one Lightning personality.
In addition to enjoying 18 holes of golf, the 22 teams also competed in several fun and friendly contests that were held on the course, including a longest-drive competition, a contest to test each player’s driving skills by seeing who could shoot a hole-in-one (no winners by the way, although Dan Ellis came within one foot of a new Mercedes Benz), and also a challenge to see which golfer could hit the ball closest to a hockey net positioned 250 yards down the fairway.
“It was a great day out there to meet all the sponsors and hit some golf balls,” Hedman added. “I even played pretty well on the back nine.”
At the end of the night, which featured an excellent steak dinner and a brief closing ceremony, it was clear that proficiency on the ice often equates itself with proficiency on the fairways and greens as many of the Lightning celebrities took home some hardware.
Assistant Coach Martin Raymond was among the winners and walked away with an autographed Brett Clark stick, while the team of Mike Lundin, George Swierko and the gentlemen of Paradise Worldwide Transportation came out in third place. Another team, led by Lightning alumni Brian Bradley, came in second place with a total group score of 135 and won a Vincent Lecavalier signed stick. Goaltender Dan Ellis was awarded a closest-to-the-pin prize for his almost Mercedes-winning shot on a par-3. The awards reception then culminated with a first-place prize given to Lightning television color analyst Bobby “the Chief” Taylor for captaining his winning team with a group score of 133.
Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik and CEO Tod Leiweke concluded the entire event speeches thanking all in attendance for their charitable efforts and expressed excitement regarding many great events in the near future directed at bettering the community.
“It was an absolute success,” Executive Director of the Lightning Foundation Kasey Smith said. “All of our players and major sponsors were present and we could not have held this event without them. It was a tremendous team effort by everyone. All around, it was just a great day.”