Hampton-North Hampton Patch Editor Kyle Stucker recently chatted with former Boston Bruins forward Kenny Linseman, who can often be found surfing Hampton's beaches and running Newland Development, his Hampton-based realty firm.
Linseman is one of many retired Bruins players scheduled to play in Sunday's "Surfers vs. Bruins Alumni" charity game, which starts at 1 p.m. at the Rinks at Exeter and benefits the Molly Fund, a local cancer charity.
The following is a transcript of the phone conversation with Linseman:
HAMPTON-NORTH HAMPTON PATCH EDITOR KYLE STUCKER: What do you enjoy most about being able to use your playing career to organize or participate in successful community fundraisers like the Molly Fund "Surfers vs. Bruins Alumni" game?
KENNY LINSEMAN: It’s interesting because we do so many different charity things. All of us do all different types of events and play in these games for all different types of situations. Being that I live in the Hampton community, I know most of the people playing in the game. I know Buck and Meighan [Rowlee], and everybody there you know and you're watching [people who have] never played hockey before. It’ll be a really fun thing, you know? It’s just something you do being an athlete. If you have opportunities to do something good, you should do it.
PATCH: How is that feeling enhanced by the fact that you've known the Rowlees for about 20 years?
LINSEMAN: It’s much more emotional. They’re all emotional depending on what level you see what they have to do with. We did this game for somebody in Amesbury that got hurt and is in wheelchair. It was great. He's doing graphic art with his hands, and he has limited movement in one of his arms. They’re all emotional depending on how close you get to the source of the event, but seeing people you know every day — there’s nobody in this world that’s more positive and has got more energy than Buck. In relation to Meighan and how she’s dealing with it, it’s crazy. You just thank your lucky stars your own family is healthy and happy.
PATCH: This year the game returns to the Rinks at Exeter, which is where the first Molly Fund game was held [in 2010]. What's the biggest difference for you as a player in a smaller rink like this compared to a larger arena like the Whittemore Center [in 2011]?
LINSEMAN: There's a lot more energy. It doesn’t feel as empty. I mean, last year at [the University of New Hampshire] wasn't empty and it didn't feel empty, but this is a smaller community of people. It has a nicer feel because I think it's much more personable. You get to see and be a part of the game a lot closer, and you get to see what the game is like.
PATCH: I've been told that the origin for this game really started with you. How did you come up with the idea, and how'd you help bring it to fruition?
LINSEMAN: There are a lot of surfers that play hockey, and now there’s just so many surfers you can’t help having [surfers in the area] who play hockey. With all the events and different ways Buck and Meighan were determined to keep Molly’s name up there and do something good with the opportunity to do something to help other people, it was just logical fun.
My kids played with me in the game last year. I’d say 75 percent of the people playing in the game I know really, really well and I see all time — whether its my teammates on the alumni team or the surfing community. It’s just a really, really cool thing. It’s successful in raising money and is getting better every year, and it’s a really good thing.
PATCH: Did you expect it to turn into the overwhelming success and it has become?
LINSEMAN: Yeah. It’s such a tight-knit community in our surfing community, and all the people know all the surfers. If you went to any of the other Molly fundraisers, it’s just the way it is here. It’s been kind of neat for me because I kind of came from a hockey family, so to speak. You’re all in this game together and you all love it, and it does become a business for sure... Then coming to Hampton [and becoming a part of the surfing community], it’s very different than other places in the world. It’s a very tight-knit community. I knew it would be successful because fundraising comes down to the hard work of the people doing it.
PATCH: What do you like most about this particular event?
LINSEMAN: Obviously that it’s become a huge success, that it brings everybody together and that everybody gets to have a lot of fun in doing it. A lot of guys playing in that game that are surfers really have a lot of fun. It’s really neat to see people I know really well getting into hockey — especially people who have never really been that into hockey.
I guess seeing everybody have a good time. We’re all raising money. It’s pretty cool.
PATCH: Do you have any predictions for Sunday? To put it lightly, I’ve heard the Bruins alumni team doesn’t like to lose.
LINSEMAN: I have no idea what the lineup is like for the alumni or for the surfers, or how many skilled players they have on the team. But, as a former player you definitely don’t want to lose. We almost never lose a game. In this particular situation I’m usually playing on both teams. I'd like to see the surfers win in a sense. It would be great. Last year when I got on the ice with my kids, we won a faceoff and scored a goal, and [the Bruins] didn’t let us have the puck after that. It was pretty funny. It’s everyone's nature once you're on the ice. You're being competitive, but you're nice about it. You be nice, but nobody likes to lose.