I was lucky enough to be able to attend Cam Janssen Fights Hurricane Sandy outside of St. Louis. We have family in the area, so we visited and went to the hockey game. In case you missed Gulitti's interview and write-up about the event, you can read up on it here.
First and foremost, an amazing effort by Cam and his fiancee to pull the whole thing together in only two weeks. To plan it, coordinate everything, and have it turn out so successful is a testament to their dedication to this cause -- and to New Jersey. I have no idea how much it raised altogether, but the place seemed sold out, or at least was very close to it. Capacity was about 2,500, and although there were some empty bleacher seats in one corner, there were lots of people standing in areas where there were no seats (along the glass, up in the press box area, etc). General admission tickets were $20 each, and VIP tickets were $200 apiece... so that adds up to a nice chunk of change that will be sent to the NJ/NY area when all is said and done.
The game was held at a local ice rink, Hardee's Iceplex, which is similar to the Ice House. Lots of items were up for auction: signed jerseys including Brett Hull and Jeremy Roenick (SJ Sharks), tons of St. Louis Blues player photos (8"x10") that were autographed, Skullcandy headphones, game-used and autographed sticks, framed autographed photos -- including one of Scott Gomez. I figure that one came out of Cam's miscellaneous personal collection.
The game had a great positive, fun feeling to it. Kinda like the All-Star game, except more enjoyable to watch (and I like the All-Star game). You could tell the players really enjoyed being out there and were having a blast. They took it somewhat seriously, but played loose.
Players were divided into Team Black and Team White. Far as I can remember:
Logan Brown (HS kid, super lanky but pretty skilled... plays on Blues youth hockey Tier 1 team I think)
When the players came out for warm-ups, Cam led the way - and almost face-planted immediately. Apparently Backes had dulled the blade on his right skate, so Cam had to hobble over to the trainer on the bench across the ice, looking over his shoulder and chirping at Backes the whole way. After he got it fixed up, he went right after Backes and smacked him across the backside with his stick, while Backes just laughed.
First period was dominated largely by Team White. Andy McDonald was all over the place. Quick, shifty, great vision and creativity in the open ice -- and clearly benefited from the no-contact nature of this game. It's easy to see why he's so valuable to the Blues' offense, especially on the PP, but it's also easy to see why he's always so banged up... he looked small compared to most of the guys out there, even the non-NHLers. Craig Smith was also really impressive, so hopefully he will be a bright spot for the Predators in the future. Conklin made some great saves, including some post-to-post moves, but Team Black didn't challenge with great scoring threats all that much. Everyone was looking to set up Cam for shots on goal, and it eventually paid off: he scored a goal midway through the first period, and celebrated with Teemu Selanne's classic "toss the glove in the air and shoot it down" move. The place loved it, and so did the other players.
Second period was very different, as Team Black really amped up their game. Cam scored again, prompting Tony Twist -- who was on the benches with a mic -- to interview Cam and confirm that, yes, in one night he equaled his entire NHL career total of goals. Oshie was flying and buzzing around the net, while Winchester was a constant threat on the ice, too. Elliott made some huge saves.
Third period Team Black held on for the victory. Backes scored a sick goal and celebrated by riding his stick down the ice to the benches. Janssen finished off the hat trick on a semi-breakaway, and the place went bananas. Fans threw their hats onto the ice, while the players chucked their helmets along the ice towards Cam. Team White made it interesting by scoring three unanswered goals to close the gap to 9-8 in the final 20 seconds... including their 8th goal being scored 7-on-6. Team White had pulled the goalie, Elliott tried to score and failed, but a clearing attempt was going to make it into Team White's zone... so another of their players hopped over the boards, grabbed the puck, and flung it back into Team Black's zone. Team Black had another guy jump on the ice to help out, but still got scored on. So there ya go, 7-on-6 goal.
After the final horn sounded, Cam and most of the other guys pretended to square off to fight - but pretty much all converged on Cam. Pulled his jersey up over his head, shoved him around, swarmed him, etc. Cam took to the mic and thanked the crowd for coming out, but it took a good minute for the crowd to get quiet enough to hear him - he received a standing ovation. He thanked the crowd, the first responders for their efforts, "the boys" for coming out and playing. Said it was great to play hockey, and great to get the hat trick. He got all the guys together for photos, then got a bunch of markers and told the players to take up positions to sign autographs for all the fans. Cam, Backes, Oshie, and Pietrangelo had the most fans by far.
We sprung for the VIP tickets so we headed upstairs to where the after party was. Booze, catered food, DJ, some tables to stand around. Probably 150-200 people in there, but who knows how many were paid tickets and how many were gratis. A number of the players' wives and girlfriends were up there (lots of them were blonde, for whatever that's worth to you), Cam's whole family was up there and having a blast, some local firemen and police officers looked to be there, too. It took the players a long time to get up there because they really stuck it out downstairs to sign lots of autographs. A few of them came up afterwards: saw Pietrangelo first, then Backes, Shattenkirk, Winchester, Conklin, Janssen, and some of the local boys who I didn't recognize. Got to talk to Cam, who was super polite despite being pulled in about 12 different directions and being swarmed for autographs. He and his fiancee couldn't have been nicer.
All in all, a really fun time. Great game to watch and for a great cause. I'm sure the one in Atlantic City will be even higher quality hockey since it's almost all NHLers, but this once was a fun, small-town feeling atmosphere.
Fox2 news covered the event and you can see the story here, including a highlight of Cam's goal celebration.
Oh, right - sat next to someone from the area who told me she was really unhappy when Cam left the Blues again, that he's just so well liked in the area and that he was always so active in the community. You could just tell everyone was thrilled to see him back and doing this. The loudest cheers were for him, Backes, Oshie, and Pietrangelo.
If you have any individual questions or anything, please post them in here and I'll try to respond. There was more I had written up in my original post but, again... lost it.