Tampa Bay Lightning forward Teddy Purcell still forgets how big of an impact he can have on his native province of Newfoundland.
“It still doesn’t sink in that I’m in a position to raise so much money in one day for such great causes,” said Purcell. “We’re real fortunate to play a game that we love and have those resources to give back. It’s really nice and humbling.”
Just five years ago Purcell was simply a bystander, as he watched on-ice rival and New Jersey Devils’ forward Ryan Clowe create a charity golf tournament after making a name for himself in the NHL.
Things quickly changed though, as Purcell soon established himself as a full-timer in the league too. His good friend and fellow St. John's, Newfoundland native, Clowe, then asked him to come alongside and host the charity golf tournament that’s now known as the Clowe, Purcell and Friends Golf Classic.
“We’re such good friends, we didn’t want to both do something in relatively small cities individually,” said Purcell. “We wanted to team-up and do it together, so I was very fortunate to become part of the tournament.”
Lightning center Steven Stamkos hit the green this past week to help raise money for teammate Teddy Purcell's hometown of St. John's, Newfoundland.
Now as a unit, they’ve managed to cover more ground when spreading the word about the tournament across the NHL.
“As we’ve played more in the league, and I’ve played on a few teams, you always have guys coming and going and you become real good friends with them,” said Purcell.
Some of those friends in this year’s Classic included fellow teammate, and Bolts superstar center, Steven Stamkos, former Lightning teammates’ Dominic Moore and Steve Downie, as well as Luke Adam, James Neal and Adam Pardy all teeing off.
“Newfoundland is not easy to get to, so it’s nice of the guys to donate their time,” said Purcell, who added that it took Stamkos and other invitees a three-hour flight to travel to St. John's.
“They know it’s for charity and it’s a nice weekend to get away. We try to have a little fun too,” he said. “The guys do a nice job of committing a couple days of their time to come down and help our cause.”
These commitments led to the Classic reaching and breaking its goal of $500,000 as part of the tournament’s five year anniversary this summer. The Lightning also donate items for the Classic, while fans get to see and interact with some of their favorite players during a fan night, on the night before the round of golf.
“The fans really like to see those guys, but at the end of the day, when you raise $120,000 for less-fortunate kids, that’s really what it’s all about,” he said.
This year’s sponsored charities included, Choices for Youth, Kids Eat Smart and the City of St. John’s R.E.A.L. program, which is a mainstay of the golf tournament. Each organization’s main beneficiary is children of the same community Purcell and Clowe grew up in.
Purcell also didn’t hesitate to mention the handful of committee members for the tournament that volunteer their time year-round. The group handles the logistics of putting the tournament together and help make each year better than the last.
Every year we learn new things and every year it’s more of a success. - Teddy Purcell
“All the credit should be given to our tournament committee,” said Purcell. “Every year we learn new things and every year it’s more of a success.”
Heading up this year’s festivities has kept Purcell busy, but he did manage to take note of a few happenings on the course.
“Stammer looked pretty good,” said Purcell as he held back laughs. “He had a nice outfit on, so he was definitely best dressed. I don’t know if he was on his A-game, but I’ll have to give it to him.”
Their charity work for the fifth year running continues to show that Purcell and Clowe have found their calling off the ice and have managed to find it as fun as it is rewarding. While it may only translate to one round of golf every summer, the children of St. John's reap the benefits of their golf tournament all year long.