Ex-NHLer cycles across Canada

Andrew Robinson
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Retired 15-year National Hockey League (NHL) veteran Brad Marsh, the current Ottawa Senators Alumni Association president and philanthropist, concluded his 90 Day Challenge just before 3:30 p.m. by pedalling his way into the Suncor Energy St. John's Boys and Girls Club in Buckmaster's Circle on Friday afternoon, to the applause of some 75 shouting young boys and girls from the city's Buckmaster's Circle and Mundy Pond clubs. - Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

If you still remember Brad Marsh from his days patrolling the blue line for teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and the Calgary Flames, you may have been surprised by his appearance in St. John's on Friday - he was wearing a helmet.

But the retired NHL veteran of 15 seasons and one of the last helmetless players to skate in the league was not wearing his helmet for hockey purposes, but instead for riding his bike.

Marsh rode triumphantly into the parking lot of the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. John's on Buckmaster's Circle and was greeted by dozens of kids upon the completion of his cross-country ride in support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

The children chanted, "Thank you," with boisterous voices before they resumed blowing into their piercingly loud whistles with great enthusiasm.

"Well, hello St. John's," said Marsh once he managed to get inside the building. "Myself and my family are very, very happy to be here."

The ride - dubbed the Brad Marsh 90 Day Challenge - took off from Vancouver on April 25 in wet weather, much like that which greeted him in St. John's. His son Erik Marsh accompanied him for the entire journey.

"The reason why we're doing this trip is I'm from Ottawa ... and myself and a number of my NHL alumni buddies do an awful lot with the Ottawa Boys and Girls Club."

Marsh said he assumed for a time that everybody knew about the work done by boys and girls clubs across the country, but he learned otherwise in speaking with people from Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.

"The whole idea of the bike ride is to raise the profile of the boys and girls clubs," he said.

Boys and girls clubs offer afterschool programming focused on physical, educational and social development activities. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada website reports there are more than 100 clubs across the country.

"As I've come across Canada with my family, we've stopped at boys and girls clubs, and the media, whether it be TV, radio or newspaper, has just been fabulous. ... So many people are learning for the first time about the boys and girls clubs, so it's been a great success."

Speaking with the children, Marsh talked about his years spent in the NHL. Discussing his time with the Flyers, he asked the kids if there were any Edmonton Oilers fans amongst them. One boy responded that he used to be a fan of the team.

"You used to be? Well that's good, because I don't like the Edmonton Oilers at all, because when I played in Philadelphia, the Edmonton Oilers beat my Flyers in the Stanley Cup finals twice (in 1985 and 1987)."

Asking whether there were any fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs, another team he played for, the children offered an equal numbers of cheers and boos in response.

"Well, the (St. John's) IceCaps had a better year this year than the Leafs did," said Marsh, getting a loud cheer from the audience, which also included IceCaps mascot Buddy the Puffin.

Marsh later joined the children for a game of floor hockey and some hot dogs.

arobinson@thetelegram.com Twitter: TeleAndrew

Organizations: Philadelphia Flyers, NHL, Calgary Flames Edmonton Oilers Ottawa Boys and Girls Club Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's, Vancouver Ottawa Philadelphia

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