Former Philadelphia Flyers left winger Bob Kelly has only one request when he takes to the ice at Boardwalk Hall this Sunday with some of his fellow Broad Street Bullies.
“Don’t boo us old guys,” Kelly says, laughing.
Kelly, along with several former Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils players, will come to Atlantic City for the second annual “Red Line Classic: Battle of the Boards,” with events beginning 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 9, at Boardwalk Hall. The charity game will pit former Flyers, New Jersey Devils and firefighters from all over the Delaware Valley against one another to raise money for two nonprofit organizations — All Hands Working and the Barkann Family Healing Hearts Foundation.
Former NHL players who have signed up for the charity game include former Flyers Mark Recchi, Rick Tocchet, Joe Watson, Brian Propp, Todd Fedoruk, Brian Boucher and Jim Dowd, and former Devils Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver and Grant Marshall.
Organizers say more former NHL stars are expected to participate. Actor Alan Thicke, best known for his role on “Growing Pains,” will be playing for the White Team, led by celebrity coach and media personality Maria Papadakis. Susie Selek, host of the “Great Sports Debate” on Comcast Network, will coach the Orange Team.
“Just to get the opportunity to help out should be pretty unique and special,” Kelly says.
Players will face off in the main event at 2 p.m. A match between the Fire Department of New York hockey team and the Philly Fire hockey team will take place at 11 a.m., followed by a pee-wee game at 12:30 p.m.
Kelly, who spent the better part of the 1970s with the Flyers during their Stanley Cup glory days, remains with the team to this day as their Ambassador of Hockey. He often visits area schools, where he speaks about teamwork, and still attends most Flyers games, where he can be found interacting with fans and presenting awards during home games.
Games such as the Red Line Classic, he says, help to bring people out for a worthy cause.
“This changes it up a little bit,” Kelly says. “With this, you’ve got guys from the (New Jersey) Devils coming, you’ve got guys like (Rick) Tocchet coming, and they’re all pretty good household names. Then you have the firefighters as well. It brings a different twist to it.”
Proceeds benefit All Hands Working charity, a nonprofit that provides firefighters with fitness equipment grants, health and nutritional resources and survival training, as well the Barkann Family Healing Hearts Foundation, which provides financial aid to Delaware Valley families who are in need due to a recent tragedy.
“We founded this (nonprofit) to raise funds to donate equipment and to help bridge the gap between professional athletes and firefighters,” says Joe Gordon, president of All Hands Working and a career firefighter. “It’s strikingly similar how what athletes and firefighters go through results in the same effects on their body. The only difference is a firefighter doesn’t know what date, what time that event is going to take place,” says Gordon.
Organizers behind the Red Line Classic opted to move to Atlantic City this year following the success of several hockey events in Boardwalk Hall, including the yearly AHL matchups and charity events such as Operation Hat Trick, which raised money for Hurricane Sandy victims.
“The thing is, with firefighters … we’re always raising funds for other causes,” Gordon says. “So, for firefighters, it’s a chance to raise money for something for themselves, and to go out on the ice and skate with these great athletes — not only playing against them, but skating with the Devils and the Flyers. It’s not just a one-sided alumni game. It gets all the guys behind it — and it builds that brotherhood. And then, for fans, it allows them to see these great hockey legends and understand what emergency services are provided.”
“We play anywhere from 8 to 12 games a year for charity,” Kelly says.
“And we raise between $115,000 and $120,000 over the course of the games. There are a lot of good people (participating), so hopefully, it’s a win-win for everybody.”
Red Line Classic Pre-Parties
Head to 21 Sports Bar inside Caesars Atlantic City for the official Red Line Classic Pre-Party, taking place 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 8. Rick Tocchet and Mark Recchi are confirmed to attend. The $20 admission includes complimentary food from Chickies & Pete’s, discounted drinks and admission to Dusk Nightclub after the pre-party. Tickets to pre-party are limited to 100. To reserve passes go to TheRedLineClassic.com or21BarAC.com.