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Rock set to welcome Bourque

Hall of Fame Norris Trophy-winning blue-liner Ray Bourque, shown here speaking to the media during a press conference in Calgary on Nov. 8, 2011, will be in Timmins on Thursday, April 5, for the 2018 Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraiser in the McIntyre Ballroom. Bourque is a five-time Norris Trophy winner and was 13 times selected to the NHL’s First Team All-Star team. JIM WELLS/POSTMEDIA NETWORK

By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)

TIMMINS – How do you follow up an inaugural Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraiser that featured a Hall of Fame Norris Trophy-winning defenceman?

By bringing in another Hall of Fame Norris Trophy-winning defenceman, that’s how.

After welcoming former Edmonton Oilers great Paul Coffey to Timmins in 2017, the Rock are rolling out the red carpet for legendary Boston Bruins blue-liner Ray Bourque.

Bourque will be the key note speaker during the 2018 Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraiser in the McIntyre Ballroom on Thursday, April 5.

Tickets are $60 for the event, which will see cocktails start at 6 p.m., with dinner to follow at 7 p.m.

“We got a lot of good feedback from the public and people who attended our event last year and had the chance to talk to Paul,” said Rock president Ted Gooch.

“We wanted to continue to raise some money for the club by bringing in yet another great former NHL player, have a dinner and get a chance to hear their story.”

Bourque’s story, of course, is one any hockey fan — regardless of the team they cheer for — should be quite familiar with following his brilliant career.

Taken eighth overall by the Bruins from the Verdun Black Hawks, of the QMJHL, in the 1979 NHL draft, Bourque quickly established himself as an elite blue-liner.

His rookie season with the Bruins (80, 17-48-65, 73) saw Bourque win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.

That, of course, would be just the first of many awards the Saint-Laurent, Que., would add to his trophy case over the years.

He won the Norris Trophy, as the NHL’s top defenceman, in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, and 1994.

Bourque also won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1992 and the Lester Patrick Trophy in 2003.

He was an NHL First Team All-Star in 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996 and 2001, and a Second Team All-Star in 1981, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1995 and 1999.

Following a 2000 trade that saw Bourque and fellow veteran Dave Andreychuk shipped to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for Brian Rolston, Martin Grenier, Sammy Pahlsson, and a first-round draft pick (Martin Samuelsson), the Hall of Famer finally got his name on the one trophy that had eluded him — the Stanley Cup (2001).

Bourque’s impressive resume has him ranked eighth all-time (fourth among defencemen) in career games played with 1,612; fourth all-time in career assists with 1,169, a record for defencemen; 11th all-time in career points scored (1,579), first among defenceman; and first in career goals scored by a defenceman (410).

In addition to playing for the Bruins and the Avalanche, Bourque has also represented his country at both the Winter Olympic Games and the Canada Cup.

While the Timmins market is dominated by Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians and Ottawa Senators fans, Gooch notes the city is also home to a large number of Bruins fans.

“The maximum number of fans we can fit into the ballroom is about 360 and we are certainly hoping for a sellout,” he said.

“We have dropped the price on tickets down to $60 this year, which will include dinner and a moderated-style question and answer period with Ray. Fans will have an opportunity to ask him some questions and hear some great stories.

“We really wanted to keep the price point where it would be more affordable for people to come out as families. We feel we have done that and we are hoping for a good turnout.”

Gooch has not had a chance to speak to Bourque in person yet, but he is looking forward to doing so.

“I spoke with his agent and Ray is looking forward to coming to Timmins,” he said.

“He is familiar with all of the recent NHL stars who have visited Timmins, from Paul Coffey, to Wendel Clark to Butch Goring. They have all had nothing but good things to say about Timmins.

“He is also looking forward to taking a tour of the rink. I lady luck is on our side, come April 5 hopefully we will still be battling for the Eastern Finals.”

Asked how much money the Rock are hoping to raise through the event, Gooch noted: “All net profits are a positive. We have been very successful with all of our previous fundraisers. Our Timmins Golden Bears Night drew some great funds, as did our previous celebrity dinners.

“A profit of $3,000 to $5,000 is something that would make for a very successful event. The money will go toward improvements within the organization, some stuff for the dressing room, some new jerseys for next season. We are looking to upgrading to fully stitched and patched jerseys. We want to put some money towards the players and the equipment they are using, as well.”

Gooch expects a number of Rock players will be present for the 2018 Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraiser.

“We are hoping to have some of the boys be part of the event and maybe assist with some of the dinner and drink serving,” he said.

“Maybe assist with any 50/50 raffles we may have, as well, and assist with our silent auction.”

Gooch notes the team will have an excellent selection of NHL memorabilia available in the auction.

“There will be everything from a signed Guy Lafleur photograph to some newer Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs items,” he said.

“Fans will get an opportunity to take home something pretty special.”

Fans looking to purchase tickets for the 2018 Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Silent Auction Fundraiser can do so during Game 2 of the NOJHL Eastern Division quarterfinal series against the Hearst Lumberjacks at the McIntyre Arena on Monday, March 12, or by emailing [email protected]

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