Players gear up for charity game in Bangkok
He's a fireplug on the ice, an incessant fore-checker whose mouth moves
as fast as he skates. He's the Flying Farangs' agitator known simply as
"Witty." At 5'8" and 170 lbs, Scott Whitcomb is one of
those hockey players who burrows under the skin of the opposition. He
draws penalties, then scores on the power-play. He's a player you love
to hate - the Ken Linesman of Southeast Asia.
But that's on the ice. Off it, it's a very different story. Whitcomb and
his Bangkok hockey-playing brethren are icing a charity game to aid the
victims of the deadly Asian tsunami in southern Thailand this Sunday.
It was his idea, and he's been the driving force behind the event.
Hailing from Appleton, Wisconsin, Witty also acts as the Thai-World Hockey
League Commissioner. He believes when people are in trouble others must
"I often went to Phuket and Phi Phi in southern Thailand, and the
warmth of the people always amazed me," says Whitcomb. "I feel
so sorry now that everything is gone, wiped out. I wanted to give something
back in their time of need."
But Thailand's hockey players don't have much to offer. Most work as English
teachers and journalists, and have a hard time affording the flights to
tournaments around Asia each year. However, there was one thing they knew
to do to help Thai tsunami victims: Play hockey.
Sunday's charity game will pit Team Canada against The World. The players
- including Americans, Swedes, Finns, Japanese, and Thai - gave what they
could to secure a roster spot. All hockey fans attending will be asked
to donate at the door to the Red Cross Thailand.
The Farangs' dressing room is abuzz at the prospect of corporate cash
flowing in to ease the pain of thousands of Thais devastated by the massive
waves. The National Hockey League has offered a donation, and hopes are
high that the NHL Players Association will jump on board too. With the
backing of hockey's best, it will only be matter of time before other
donors hop the boards to help out, says Whitcomb.
The Canadian Embassy, Scotiabank, Inetasia, Central World Plaza, and the
Office Bar and Grill have already lent their support.
"The help we've received so far has been heart-warming," says
Whitcomb. "But we have a long way to go."
Jason White - the Farangs' rugged third-line center - urged NHL players
with time on their hands to fly down and suit up for the charity game.
Whitey, as he's best known, issued a challenge. "I've got $10 for
each goal scored by any NHLer," says the Stephenville, Newfoundland,
native. "But charity game or not, they better keep their heads up."
The Flying Farangs asked Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to drop the
puck for the ceremonial face-off, but his office regretfully declined
as he will be in Phuket to survey the devastation first hand. Canada on
Monday hiked its pledge to tsunami-stricken countries to $350 million
over five years.
"Hey Don Cherry can drop the puck," says White of the legendary
Hockey Night in Canada commentator. "There's a spot on my sofa waiting
for him, and I know a place where he can pick up some great ties."
The puck drops Sunday at 7 pm. at Bangkok's Central World Plaza. Donations
for Thai tsunami victims can be sent through any Scotiabank branch in
the United States, Canada, or Thailand, and on the TWHL's website: www.leaguelineup.com/twhl