On Saturday, a few ATP coaches and players put down their racquets to play a friendly hockey game against NHL stars at the Rogers Cup presented by National Bank.
Canadians Jesse Levine and Isade Juneau and former players Martin Damm, Jonas Bjorkman, Magnus Norman and Thomas Johansson—the 1999 Rogers Cup champion—represented the ATP on National Bank Court.
They faced Cédric Paquette (Tampa Bay Lightning), Lars Eller (Montréal Canadiens), Antoine Roussel (Dallas Stars), Jiri Hudler (Calgary Flames) and Alex Burrows (Vancouver Canucks). Joining them was Québec women’s hockey superstar Marie-Philip Poulin, who scored the winning goals that earned Canada Olympic gold in Vancouver (2010) and Sotchi (2014).
“It’s very fun,” said Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden, who’s won all four Grand Slam doubles titles and is now on Andy Murray’s coaching team. “I’m a New York Rangers fan because of Henrik Lundqvist.”
In the end, the game went to shootouts. Team ATP won thanks to a goal by Stan Wawrinka’s coach Magnus Norman and a miss by Roussel.
“Sweden is a hockey country,” affirmed Norman. “And it’s just good to change up the training routine and do something else.”
Norman followed the NHL for many years when Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin were still in action. “Forsberg was my idol so I really kept up with the Avalanche.”
But the ATP players got some lucky breaks: they had more men in the game, were gifted a few goals and had tournament mascot Smash in the net.
Eller seemed to enjoy the event. “It’s great to play with tennis pros,” he commented. “Roger Federer is my favourite. He’s an athlete with so much class.”