Today's New York Rangers can't even make the hockey playoffs, but one veteran Blueshirt of yesteryear remains an all-star off the ice, teaming up with SPAR Group of Tarrytown to help a local group fight child abuse.
SPAR, a provider of in-store merchandising and other marketing services to businesses, has raised more than $700,000 for The Exchange Club Child Abuse Prevention Center since 1988, the year it kicked off its annual golf tournament.
Last year's SPAR Golf Tournament drew more than 130 amateur golfers and a few notables - like WNBC-TV sportscaster Bruce Beck; 1970s-era Rangers great Rod Gilbert; and Rangers broadcaster Sam Rosen.
This year's tournament will take place June 8 at the Ardsley Country Club in Ardsley-on-Hudson. Registration costs $450, with sponsorships available for between $50 and $10,000. To register or learn more about the tournament, call (914)997-2642.
SPAR co-chairman Bill Bartels said his company got involved with the Exchange Club through a board member and former chair of the not-for-profit group, his wife, Stella. "My partner (SPAR chairman Bob Brown) and I got involved when we came up with the idea of the golf tournament," Bartels recalled.
Joining them soon after was Pierre Larouche. "He felt strongly about the cause and really approached us after we came up with the idea. He said, 'I'd like to be associated with it.' Ever since then, he has been active with us, particularly when he lived in Scarsdale."
Larouche is among Rangers past and present who have cemented a nearly 20-year bond between their team and the White Plains-based Exchange Club's Child Abuse Prevention Center. Founded in 1982, the center provides volunteer counselors to local families and connects families with support agencies and networks.
A 14-year National Hockey League veteran and two-time All-Star center, Larouche scored 395 goals and 427 assists for the Rangers, the Hartford Whalers, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens.