I received an email in my inbox with the subject of "Mario Lemieux Fantasy Hockey Camp announced!", and immediately I began to salivate. I have always been a Mario Lemeiux fan because of his unparalleled skill set, so the chance to skate with "Super Mario" might be a bucket list item for me. And being that Mario Lemieux is involved, you know there will be a ton of NHL players who will lend their skills to the fantasy camp as well. Honestly, who wouldn't jump at a chance to play with one of the greatest players the NHL has ever seen, even if you don't like the Penguins or Lemieux himself?
I read on.
"The Mario Lemieux Foundation announced today that NHL great and Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux will hold a fantasy hockey camp on January 4-8, 2012, benefitting the Foundation. 'I am excited about the prospect of this camp,' said Lemieux. 'Not only will this give adults the chance to have an NHL experience, but it will also help raise needed funds for my Foundation's important cancer projects.'"If the money is going to benefit a charity, that's pretty cool too. I'm all for NHL stars putting up millions of dollars of their own monies to help fans and people in the community, and the Mario Lemieux Foundation has always been about helping cancer patients and kids. This is something I can honestly support without thinking twice that someone else is benefiting from the event.
"Participants in the Mario Lemieux Fantasy Hockey Camp will have a truly unique and exclusive team experience of skating with not only Lemieux, but also legends such as Mark Recchi, Mike Eruzione, Gary Roberts, Billy Guerin, Bryan Trottier and Rick Tocchet all serving as team captains. Participants will receive top of the line hockey gear, equipment and NHL-level hockey instruction, take part in a round-robin tournament, and attend two Pittsburgh Penguins home games at CONSOL Energy Center. All proceeds will benefit the Lemieux Foundation."So you get free gear, the chance to skate alongside more legends as well as Lemieux, NHL coaching instruction, a tournament amongst the fantasy campers, and you get to see two NHL games at the CONSOL Energy Center? That's a pile of awesome stuff. Honestly, who wouldn't want a shot at being a fantasy camper?
But as I read that, there was one little detail that crept into my mind: what's the catch? How much will this cost me? Tickets to a Penguins game aren't cheap. Equipment doesn't come free. And the cost to run the facility and bring in the NHL talent isn't cheap. So that question hung in the air until I clicked the Mario Lemieux Fantasy Hockey Camp link.
"By submitting the online form, you are registering to participate in the Mario Lemieux Fantasy Hockey Camp. The cost to participate in the Camp is $7,566. Please click the brochure above for full Camp and payment details. Once you submit the registration form, you will be contacted to collect a deposit of $1,500 to reserve your spot."And that's when I realized that I don't make an NHL salary in order to pay for my attendance. $7566 to attend for four days with a $1500 deposit?!? Camp essentially costs you $1891.50 PER DAY! If you get hurt at camp - something all us fantasy campers never believe will happen - you literally are out $2000 for every day you miss. That's not something that Joe Casual fan has lying around his house very often.
Look, I'm all for helping the Mario Lemieux Foundation and the causes they support, but $7566 is way too rich for my blood. I'd rather just hit the Mario Lemieux Foundation shop to buy a t-shirt or make a donation directly to them.
Honestly, I have dreamed many nights on my local rink of being on the ice with Mario Lemieux, accepting that seeing-eye cross-ice pass that somehow eludes a dozen defenders, and potting the game-winner upstairs behind the goalie. But that dream will remain a dream because $7566 is a lot of money to play just a few days with one of my hockey heroes. I'm far more content to save my money, attend a bunch of games, and use the remainder wisely.
As for my fantasy, I'll see Mario Lemieux out on my local rink where that cross-ice pass will find the tape of my stick, and I'll roof the hero-making goal. There's no price on that fantasy, and I'm very happy with that.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!