BY CAM TAIT, EDMONTON SUN, MAY 9
The irony here is just too good not to leave out: Dean McAmmond is coming home this weekend to play hockey in a fundraising tournament to battle homelessness.
The former Edmonton Oiler forward lived in the southwest part of Edmonton during his stay over five seasons. His homes were in Twin Brooks and Terwilliger. Bright and early Friday morning, the likeable McAmmond will be lacing up his skates with many other retired Oilers along with players who never had National Hockey League careers at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre.
Add legendary referee Kerry Fraser and it’s certainly a skate back in time of good memories and good friends. And a good cause: funds from the one-day event will be invested into Hockey Helps the Homeless. Money will also go to the Mustard Seed and the Jasper Place Wellness Centre.
McAmmond is pretty much retired from hockey and lives in the Okanagan with wife Karla and four kids, aged 13-26. He has coached his son in minor hockey and lends a hand with the chapel of the Vernon Vipers who play in the BCHL. It’s a home he has established and one he’s doesn’t take for granted.
“We have a lot of homeless people on the streets here in Vernon, I see them quite regularly, so it is always on my mind,” he said in an email exchange.
“People need help.
“I am grateful for having a home. There is a security and a gratefulness I have when I am sitting in my house surrounded by my family.”
McAmmond, who was traded from Edmonton to the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999, values a good home life: somewhere to sleep, stay warm in the winter, a hot shower and, with growing teenagers, food in the fridge.
“My kids are safe,” he said. “Having a home gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment.”
When he was asked to come back to Edmonton to be involved in the tournament, it was automatic.
“I’m always grateful that someone somewhere wants to relive the days when I played. It means that I was really there.”
Ammond will be reunited with some familiar faces, including Ron Low who coached him with the Oilers. Be thankful, though, the tournament won’t have any practices.
“There is also the time I accidentally ran into him at practice, he doesn’t remember that,” says McAmmond. “I knocked him right out. I felt so bad even to this day I am so glad he was not more seriously hurt.”
It’s dressing room stories like that which will be swirling around Friday.
“I can’t help but recalling Ted Green leading him (Low) into the dressing room blindfolded for a team meeting,” said McAmmond. “It was to simulate being led to the firing squad because of how we were playing or when he used to ride the stationary bike, and sweat like nothing I have ever seen, then threw his sopping shirt at Jason Arnott.”
There will be laughs, hockey and much more.
But the event also will help give more people a safe place to tell such tales: a safe home.