How serious will a group of former Blackhawks play when they take the ice against Team Midwest on Nov. 7 at the Midwest Training and Ice Center?
"We're out to have fun," Dave Mackey said. "But we'll play as hard as they dictate.
"Sometimes we'll skate against guys who are maybe fathers of sons who play hockey, and we'll give them a line of our own guys just to make the game a little closer. But then we've been out there against teams who'll get us to say to ourselves, 'Hey, these guys can play,' and force us to pick things up."
Mackey, who played left wing for the Blackhawks (1987-88 and 1988-89) as well as for the Minnesota North Stars and St. Louis Blues, is a member of the Blackhawks Alumni Association, a group of former players who contribute to a variety a community and charitable causes.
"We offer scholarships to local high school hockey players," Mackey said. "We've also done benefits for widows and widowers of fallen firemen and police officers."
As for Team Midwest, it's playing to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
"Most of our players are coaches from our youth hockey league and supporters of the league," said Midwest general manager Brett Giffin, who will coach Team Midwest.
Two years ago, Giffin played against the former Hawks during the first alumni game held at MTIC.
"First thing we've got to do is focus," said Giffin, who won't take the ice this time due to a broken wrist sustained while coaching the Crown Point Hockey Club varsity team. "Most of us have never played in front of a full house. And we're playing against guys who we idolized while growing up."
Due to accompany Mackey for the rematch are BAA president Cliff Koroll, who scored 208 goals for the Blackhawks during the 1970s and helped the team get to the Stanley Cup finals in 1971 and 1973; former hard-nosed defenseman and three-time NHL All-Star Phil Russell; former right winger Grant Mulvey, who led the Blackhawks in goals during the 1979-80 season; former defenseman and current pre- and postgame television analyst Steve Konryod; and former wingers Brian Noonan and Reid Simpson.
"We'll be available for autographs before and after the game," Mackey said.
The last time the former Hawks came to MTIC, they won by a slow-pitch softball score of 16-8.
"They're not as fast as they used to be, but they didn't seem to lose much when it comes to their puck-handling and shot skills," Giffin said.
So have the former Hawks ever been beaten?
"We've never lost," Mackey said. "No ... wait. We did lose to a junior team. But they had some pro prospects."
Midwest Training and Ice Center in St. John will host a Blackhawks Alumni Game starting at 6 p.m. Nov. 7. The former Blackhawks will skate against Team Midwest, with proceeds going toward the Chicago Blackhawks Charities and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. For more information, call (219) 558-8811 or visit WWW.MIDWESTTRAININGANDICECENTER.COM.