Saturday, February 13, 2016

Bettman ridiculed at A.C. benefit game

ATLANTIC CITY - There were nasty chants directed at Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner.

Bettman ridiculed at A.C. benefit game

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (Kathy Willens/AP)
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. (Kathy Willens/AP)

ATLANTIC CITY - There were nasty chants directed at Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner.

There was little defense, more than a dozen breakaways, and some sensational goaltending by the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist.

The NHL returned, at least for a night, as Team New York defeated Team Philly/New Jersey, 10-6, in a benefit game before a sellout crowd of 10,792 hockey-starved fans at Boardwalk Hall on Saturday night.

“We want hockey!” We want hockey!” they chanted as the official attendance was announced early in the third period. It was reportedly the first hockey sellout in Atlantic City since 1933.

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Flyers winger Scott Hartnell said he "got choked up hearing 11,000 people chant they want hockey back. We want to be playing and it's unfortunate we're not playing right now. But the energy in the building...was pretty incredible."

Before the game and during the latter stages of the third period, there were chants of "Fire Bettman!"

“Bettman sucks!” chants also echoed around the old arena.

The Penguins’ James Neal scored four goals to pace New York. Martin Brodeur was the losing goalie.

The game, billed as Operation Hat Trick, raised money for three organizations that are aiding Hurricane Sandy victims.

"I'm very touched everyone came out to support the relief of Hurricane Sandy," Hartnell said.

The Team Philly/New York goal scorers were Justin Williams, Wayne Simmonds, James van Riemsdyk, Simon Gagne, Andy Greene and David Clarkson.

Hartnell was the captain for Team Philly/New Jersey, while Brad Richards captained Team New York.

Team Philly had a 23-10 shots advantage in the first period, but trailed, 4-0, because Lundqvist looked in mid-season form. He finished with 56 saves, many on point-blank shots.

"The dang Rangers. They've had our number, that's for sure," Hartnell said. "You'd think he'd have a little rust on him, not playing in five or six months.....We were joking after the first period that the Rangers will want to play really bad now because he's on fire."

Brodeur, meanwhile, allowed 10 goals on 45 shots.

He kiddingly blamed his struggles on playing on the Flyers' side.

"I think that's why they scored 10 goals," he said. "I'm not used to that orange."

Breakaways. Vinny Guadagnino of Jersey Shore fame was listed as the New York coach, but Al Morganti of WIP/CSN actually handled the duties because of the actor's non-hockey background. Rick Tocchet coached Team Philly/NJ and said he hoped the fans' overwhelming response to the game would trigger a settlement....The game's organizers said they wouldn't have the amount of money raised for a few days.

Fehr is glum. While several NHL players were in Atlantic City for the benefit game, union leader Donald Fehr dampended the mood by gathering them for a pregame meeting.

Afterward, Fehr said he wanted to update the players on the labor talks, and he added that the sides were farther apart than they were a week ago because the NHL rejected the union's latest proposal on Wednesday.

Which is amusing because on Friday, Steve Fehr, Don's brother and special counsel for the NHLPA, said the sides weren't that far apart.

Donald Fehr also did not rule out the union decertifying and contesting to the courts that the lockout is illegal.

Fehr did have a funny line on playing the slots in AC: "Maybe I'll have better luck there than I do at the bargaining table," he said.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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