Hockey fans 'to the core,' NHL alumni games deliver in Newfoundland

Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens get to see some of their idols in action as alumni teams from each beloved franchise are in the province for games.

Leafs and Habs each have alumni teams in province for St. Patrick's weekend

Buddy the Puffin dropped the puck at Friday night's Leafs alumni vs St. John's Caps game at Mile One in St. John's. (Twitter/Toronto Maple Leafs)

There may be a long-standing rivalry between the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, but Newfoundland fans of both teams aren't competing this St. Patrick's Day weekend. 

Maple Leafs alumni and Habs alumni are in the province facing off against local players in three communities. 

An alumni team of former Maple Leafs beat the St. John's Caps in a special exhibition game at Mile One Centre in the province's capital on Friday night. 

Before hitting the ice, famous goalie Curtis (Cujo) Joseph told CBC News that playing the small, intimate venue is a treat for one big reason: the fans.

"We signed autographs for the last couple of days and they're really appreciative and true hockey fans you can tell, right to the core. So we're excited to play for the fans here," said Joseph. 

 

Joseph said reuniting with other former Leafs is all right as well. 

"We're brothers, you know, so it's a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, all the stories — it sounds like we were better than we were, so it's always fun!"

Darcy Tucker, Steve Thomas and Nik Antropov were among the other players on the roster. 

'Bringing everyone together'

On Thursday night, an alumni team of Montreal Canadiens played for fans in Conception Bay South, before traveling to Fogo Island for another game against locals there on Saturday night — with some St. Patrick's Day revelry in the plans as well. 

 

Adam Young plays with the hometown recreational hockey team going up against  the former Habs, and he helped organize the once-in-a-lifetime game. 

"We're going to give them a good time," he said.

Goalie Richard Sévigny, Steve Shutt as coach, Louis LeBlanc, Patrice Brisebois and Chris Nilan are some of the former Canadiens skating. 

"I'm excited to see Steve Shutt. I've got, I don't know how many hockey cards of him, and I remember watching him when I was growing up," Young told CBC Radio's Central Morning on Friday. 

"I mean, geez, it's going to be, it's pretty exciting."

Young said they also have a "Thrill of a Lifetime" feature, which sees "some of the older guys on the island" playing alongside the NHL stars. 

"One guy's kids all came home to watch him," he said. 

"It's bringing everyone together." 

With files from Zach Goudie and Central Morning