By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Four-time Stanley Cup champion Paul Coffey will headline the first Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Fundraiser at the Porcupine Dante Club on Sunday, March 5.
Ted Gooch, a member of the Rock’s board of directors, confirmed the news late Friday afternoon.
“We finally signed the contract today,” he said.
The Rock will entertain the NOJHL-leading Powassan Voodoos at the McIntyre Arena, in a contest scheduled to start at 2 p.m., with Coffey to take part in the pre-game ceremonies and drop the puck.
“We will be rolling out the red carpet for him and then, following the game, we will be moving to the Dante Club for the dinner,” Gooch said.
The director posted a number of hints on Facebook earlier this week, which generated quite a stir.
“It was only five days, but people were already turning on me,” Gooch said.
“They said, ‘enough is enough, we want to know already,’ but we didn’t want to release anything until we actually had Paul Coffey committed and the contract signed. We wanted to make sure we had all the details finalized.”
Tickets for the Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Fundraiser, which will include admission to the game against the Voodoos, will be selling for $100.
Coffey will deliver a 20- to 30-minute keynote speech following the four-course meal at the Dante Club and there will be a question and answer session, as well.
“There will also be an autograph session with Paul,” Gooch said.
“Some of the Timmins Rock players, wearing their maroon road jerseys, will be on hand, helping to top up water and serving bread.”
The director explained their are two reasons why the Rock decided to hold a celebrity sports dinner/fundraiser in their second year back in Timmins.
“First, we are happy to be able to bring Paul Coffey to town to help us raise some funds for our hockey club,” Gooch said.
“We will be using the money to hold some spring tryouts for next year’s team. We want to have the team and the players involved in the community as much as possible.
“Second, we wanted to start the process of bringing some good sports celebrities to Timmins for our fans and the public in general.”
Opting to bring in a player of Coffey’s calibre, who in addition to winning four Stanley Cups also has multiple Norris Trophies on his resume and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, was a no-brainer.
“He definitely fits the bill,” Gooch said.
“He played alongside Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, two of the greatest players of all time, and is second all time in terms of points for defencemen behind Ray Bourque. We are looking forward to hearing the stories he has to tell about his time in the NHL.”
“When we were going through possible players to bring to Timmins, we wanted a winner who can share some Stanley Cup winning stories and help motivate our current players on how to be successful in their hockey careers.
“We are sure Paul is going to be able to really captivate our audience. We think it is really going to be a good fit.”
The seating capacity for the Dante Club for the Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Fundraiser is 380 and Gooch is confident the team will have little trouble selling out the event.
“From the feedback we have had already, I am sure the tickets are going to sell fast,” he said.
“People should grab their tickets as soon as they can.”
In addition to getting an opportunity to hear a Hall of Famer speak, fans will have an opportunity to bid on a number of silent auction items.
“We will have some good hockey memorabilia that will be up for grabs,” Gooch said.
“In addition to Coffey stuff, there will be some Montreal Canadiens stuff and some Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs stuff.”
Having the Timmins Rock Celebrity Sports Dinner/Fundraiser on the same date as a key match-up against the Voodoos, the Rock are hoping to see the McIntyre Arena packed for the afternoon contest.
“The board of directors has had some discussions on how we can really replicate what the arrival of Rogers Hometown Hockey did for our community,” Gooch said.
That visit by the Voodoos saw 1,662 fans pack the Mac.
“We are almost looking at this as Hometown Hockey Part 2,” Gooch said.
“Paul will be sticking around the rink for a little bit and watching the game with us. Hopefully, will be able to give our fans a good show.”
Having played part of his junior career with the Greyhounds in Sault Ste. Marie, Coffey is no stranger to Northern Ontario.
“He is very excited to come to Timmins,” Gooch said.
“He understands our hockey history here in Timmins.”
Coffey was named one of the NHL’s Top 100 Players during the recent All-Star Game festivities that were held in Los Angeles.
To purchase tickets, fans can email Gooch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will probably have the tickets available with a week to two weeks,” he said.