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Seven Tampa Bay Lightning players get head shaved for a good cause

TAMPA — The thing about getting one's head shaved on a stage in front of a crowd of people is there is no mirror to view the process.

So when Lightning center Nate Thompson said he noticed people laughing, he thought, uh, oh.

But when Thompson and six teammates were done, domes glistening, there only was cheering.

"Bald," spectator Tracy Morrow shouted, "is beautiful."

Especially when it is for a good cause.

Thompson, Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis, Victor Hedman, Teddy Purcell, Ryan Malone and Mike Smith had their heads shaved Thursday night at the Pepin Hospitality Center as part of the Cut For A Cure program to raise money for pediatric cancer.

Proceeds will be split between the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg and the Pediatric Cancer Foundation in Tampa.

Nancy Crain, executive director of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation, said the event raised $161,000. The goal, she said, is $230,000, and donations can be made at pcfcutforacure.org and fastercure.org until the Lightning is out of the playoffs or May 6, whichever is later.

"It's huge," Crain said. "The players are concentrating on hockey, but they take the time to give back."

"When you see the smiles on their face, you know it made their night," Lecavalier said of the kids in the audience and who helped shave the players. "To know what they go through and how tough it is … the least we can do is things like this."

Actually, 31 people had their heads shaved, including Sun Sports reporter Paul Kennedy and former Lightning defenseman Stan Neckar. But it was the current players who commanded the attention.

"I'm becoming a Lightning fan," said Suzan Harrison of St. Petersburg, whose daughter, Emma, 8, a leukemia patient, helped shave Neckar.

It wasn't long ago Emma was bald because of her treatments.

"I told him," said Emma, in remission and now with a full head of black hair, "it was very fashionable."

That was a hard sell to the players.

"Did you see that head?" Smith said of Malone.

"I was very surprised with Nate Thompson," Lecavalier said. "He was the one I thought would look funny because he always has that, not Fabio, but slick-back hair. But he looked pretty good."

The most dramatic transformations were of Smith and Malone, whose long, curly locks tumbled down their smocks.

"It's a great cause," Thompson said. "We're happy to be part of it. This community stands behind us. We want to make sure we stand behind them as well."

The shavings were the end of a special day for Lightning players and coaches, who after practice hosted leukemia patient Joshua Gandy, 9, of Apollo Beach and his family. Joshua sat on the players' bench at the St. Pete Times Forum while players sang Happy Birthday. They also had cake.

"It's amazing the attitudes they have," Smith said of the kids with cancer. "They're all smiles. The least I could do is shave my head."

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Seven Tampa Bay Lightning players get head shaved for a good cause 04/07/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 8, 2011 10:09am]
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