Three things were clear from the RBC Charity Challenge that was fronted by NHLPA members P.K. Subban and Steven Stamkos at the new Maple Leaf Gardens on Wednesday.
First, after the game the players' responses to questions about the 95-day-old NHL lockout and the ongoing vote to authorize the NHLPA executive board to file the disclaimer of interest - if the players chose that route - were well scripted.
There were no Evander Kane-like brush fires to put out (see his Twitter photo from earlier this week) and there were no more verbal darts tossed in the direction of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The players obviously didn't want to take away from the charity game's cause, raising money for grass roots hockey.
Secondly, Eric Lindros must be a lousy coach. His Team Subban was badly beaten. Only a late-game comeback made the 13-10 affair appear closer than it was before a sellout of 2,600 at $30 a seat.
"I don't know if it was all his fault," Team Subban goalie Martin Biron said, jokingly. "Maybe [assistant coach] Rob Zamuner was to blame, too. I do know we needed a timeout there when we got down early."
The third development was the guy who had the most fun was Louie George. Who is Louie George? He is a 25-year-old, fifth-year goalie with Ryerson University.
Earlier this week, he switched on his computer to find an email from Ryerson head coach Graham Wise. The message read that the NHLPA needed a fourth goalie for its charity game, was he interested?
"It didn't take me long to answer that one," George said. He spelled Biron in the second period, played well and enjoyed the experience.
"It was so much fun," George continued. "This is something that I'll never forget."
George found P.K. Subban, Brad Boyes, David Clarkson, Joffrey Lupul, Chris Campoli and the others on Team Subban extremely welcoming.
"I sat beside Tom Kostopoulos in the dressing room and he could not have been nicer," George said. "He asked a lot of questions and wanted to know how my season was going."
Was there much chatter in the dressing room about the lockout among the NHLPA members?
"They talked about it a little, but not much," George said. "Mostly they were catching up with each other, finding out what they have been up. How much they have been working out or skating. That sort of stuff."
Predictably, George said he supports the players in their dispute with the owners. Back home in Waterloo, Ont., George has skated with some pros in the summertime.
The Ryerson hockey team is on a break right now. In fact, during some informal morning skates George has played out in recent sessions with his teammates. But he returned to his natural position the past couple of days once he found out of his evening with the pros.
"I think so," George replied, when asked if this was an experience he can build off when his league resumes in the New Year.
"These guys are so fast. They're threats from much farther out than I'm used to. I had to be ready."
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