It’s not always what happens on the ice that counts. The league and individual teams plus the players and their families contribute a lot of time, money, and effort into charitable projects and foundations. Especially over the summer, the aforementioned parties go above and beyond serving their hometown and franchise areas with the work that they do.
Here in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation partners up with many local charities and businesses to serve the surrounding area. One of their biggest, ongoing efforts has been Project Power Play. “Project Power Play takes advantage of the growing popularity of hockey in the tri-state area by affording young players access to newly constructed, outdoor, multi-use athletic facilities in partnership with Highmark.” Basically, they build Dek Hockey rinks in parks and recreation areas in and around the Pittsburgh area. Their latest Dek was built in Youngstown, Ohio earlier this month. They also team up with the Mario Lemieux Foundation (MLF) to host a 6.6K run and 3.3K walk every October that starts and ends on Fifth Avenue (RIP Mac Miller) in front of PPG Paints Arena. Additionally, the MLF works to provide X-Boxes, games, and other entertainment to those in/at Children’s hospitals in the area by sponsoring the building of Austin’s Playrooms named after Austin Lemieux. Similar Foundations exist in accordance to all the other 30 NHL teams.
During the off-season there are different charity games that take place throughout the US and Canada that are hosted by NHL players themselves or different colleges/universities/organizations that invite NHL players to compete in. Mentioned in a previous post (justmysportsopinions.com/2018/08/28/comm-ave-charity-classic-bc-cause-i-wouldnt-wanna-bu/) is the Comm Ave Charity Classic that takes place in Boston, Massachusetts every year hosted by either Boston College or Boston University. They invite back alumni to draft two full rosters of mostly NHL players to support the Compassionate Care ALS, Pete Frates Home Health Initiative, and the Travis Roy Foundation. Henrik Lundqvist and Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers host their own Summer Classic in Norway where they invite players from around the league and draft their own teams. This event “aims to assist children and young people in challenging situations around the world.”
Like Zuccarello and Lundqvist, NHL players take it upon themselves to create their own foundations and give back to their communities. In Pittsburgh, Kris Letang would probably be the guy that stands out when it comes to servicing the community as a family. The family volunteers at various events around the city and Letang collaborates with Edgar Snyder and Playworks, making appearances at floor hockey and other field day type events. Players around the league also participate in community events such a PRIDE Parades and the Calgary Flames ride in the Calgary Stampede parade every year. The NHL as a whole also comes together in support of their Hockey Fights Cancer and Hockey is for Everyone initiatives.
The hockey community comes together in many ways to support one another. The best example of this would be the follow up of the community after the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. From the league and NHL teams to online apparel companies and fans around the world, an astronomical amount of support was sent their way. The surviving members were invited to the NHL Awards this past June where there was a tribute to those who were lost including Head Coach Darcy Haugan who was awarded the inaugural Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award. The GoFundMe created to support the surviving members and the families of those who didn’t make it, reached over $15 million. Contributing to this total was various online apparel companies such as Everything Hockey that created and sold decals, and other companies t-shirts and hoodies, where 100% of the profits were donated to the Humboldt Broncos. Similar actions and support was sent to Vegas and Stoneman Douglas High School after their respective tragedies.
Overall, the ice hockey community is arguably one of the strongest and most supportive in the world. We come together to support one another in amazing ways. Get involved today in your local foundations/charities/events by checking out your team’s or favorite players’ foundations.
For more information on the above foundations and charities, check out the links below.