Larry Richert, Pittsburgh Celebrity Hockey Team (May 2, 2011):
First, can you tell us how the Pittsburgh Celebrity Hockey Team got started and where/when fans can see the team play?
We combined some members of different charity organizations who were playing games almost twenty years ago, including KDKA TV and Radio, Penguins Alumni and some other players who were looking to donate their time to raising charity funds while having fun playing.
What are some of the more memorable venues you’ve played in and what made them so?
Johnstown War Memorial Arena is one of many but because of “Slapshot” it seemed especially nostalgic. The team once played the CIA outside of Washington DC. Their team came out in black, no numbers and wearing sunglasses!
How is the organization funded – the equipment, ice-time, etc… and are the players compensated?
The players are of course not compensated and we rely on donations of ice time and the funds that we raise go primarily to children’s charities. We also love to support youth hockey and the sled hockey team has been a favorite event.
What are some of the different charities you play for and how do they reach out to you?
Over the years we have played games for EMS Organizations, Children’s Hospital, Youth Hockey Programs, Sled-Hockey Team, Fire-Fighters Memorial Fund just to name a few.
Who is on the team – who are the regulars fans can expect to see when the team plays and who are some of the surprise players that have played over the years?
We have had an amazing list of celebrities over the years. Steelers H-O-F member Jack Lambert, Former Penguins GM Craig Patrick, Pens H-O-F member Joey Mullen, Brian Trottier, Jay Caufield. Also a host of TV and Radio personalities like KDKA-TV’s Ross Guidotti. WDVE’s Mike Prisuta has joined us in the past along with many other Pittsburgh notables.
Can you describe the fan experience for those who have never seen the team play?
Just a fun time! We really enjoy the games and we hope the fans do too!
Who do you play against – is there a league you are involved in of any sort and how often do you play?
We don’t have a league per se however we have had long term relationships with organizations. We at one time were playing 12 games a season. It’s been more difficult in recent years to make that kind of commitment.
Any of the players surprising in terms of their ability on the ice? Who are some of the players that entertain fans the most, and how do they do so?
Any of the Penguin alumni usually demonstrate why they were professional in that they make it look so easy!
For the rest of us you really appreciate their talent. But we have some guys who may not be as well know who really are good hockey players.
What have been some of the most memorable experiences with the players/organization so far, and why were they so?
At our last outing at RMU we had all three Hansen Brothers from “Slapshot” play! That was a hoot!
Any plans to draw more attention to the team in future? How do you promote the team and the causes you support?
We are always looking to grow the organization. We need to take more advantage of social media. Our new President Bob Black is very well connected and we are hoping next season is a winner for all especially the charities.