CALGARY – The trash talk was there but it’s starting to look as if hope does not spring eternal for the celebrity rockers taking on a team of hockey legends in the Juno Cup.
Each year former NHLers take on the musicians’ team in an annual fundraiser in support of MusiCan, a charity that helps fund school musical instruments and scholarships and sponsors a teacher of the year award.
“There’s no doing it. It’s like the tortoise and the hare but the hare will win. It’s geldings and thoroughbreds,” acknowledged Blue Rodeo frontman Jim Cuddy, a veteran of these clashes, which the rockers have never won.
“Last year was televised and I watched a bit of it and it was embarrassing, truly embarrassing,” he chuckled.
Cuddy will be joined by Sloan’s Chris Murphy and Andrew Scott, singer Tom Cochrane, “Canadian Idol” judge Zack Werner, singer Barney Bentall and country warbler Shane Yellowbird.
They will take on the hockey legends who brought Calgary its only Stanley Cup championship in 1989 – a group that includes Lanny McDonald, Colin Patterson, Doug Gilmour and Jamie Macoun as well as Bob Probert, Brad Dalgarno, Mark Napier, Mike Pelyk, Paul Coffey and Russ Courtnall.
The chances of winning are not good, Cuddy admitted.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to win. If we won it would be some kind of cheating probably,” he said.
Bentall wasn’t going to give up quite so easily.
“We’ve got a real grudge, I tell you. We keep hoping,” he laughed.
Most of the trash talking, not surprisingly, came from the NHLers.
“We can’t take it easy on them. On the bus ride over they were already chirping,” said Gilmour. “We’ll have to have a little discussion with them on the ice.”
Gilmour, who also does a bowling charity with Cuddy in Winnipeg, said it’s fun for the hockey greats because the musicians “get pretty competitive out there.”
McDonald, looking remarkably like professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, got some laughs when he posed for pictures with Cuddy and Bentall and put them both into headlocks.
“We’re going to rock the rockers,” he warned. “Nah, we’re just going to have some fun out here and that’s what it’s all about.”
Assessing the collective hockey talent on the Rockers’ team, McDonald predicted a score of 42-0, though he offered up a little respect for Cuddy.
“Jim could have played in the NHL, seriously,” he said.
‘Really?” asked a reporter.
“Sure he could have – just ask him,” replied a laughing McDonald.
The Rockers lost to the NHL Greats in Saskatoon last year by a score of 11-9.
The Friday night game precedes the annual Juno Awards for the best in Canadian music which will be presented in Calgary this weekend.