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From The Press Box: Plenty of open doors

 

They say opportunity knocks once but with hockey, it never seems to stop

 

Hockey creates a lot of really cool opportunities. 

Two weeks ago, I was lucky to be part of team HockeyNow in the Scotiabank Hockey for Alzheimer’s in Vancouver. 

This was the second year that the event was run in Vancouver and we have been fortunate enough to be a sponsor both years. The basic concept of the event is that teams have to raise a minimum of $25,000 in order to play. There is a live draft on the night before play begins where teams, in descending order of money raised, pick an NHL Alumni player to be on their team for the weekend – what a great concept. Here you have a rink full of teams, volunteers and NHL Alumni all coming together for a great cause and creating new relationships and opportunities.

What I found very inspiring about my teammates and the alumni that I met was all the opportunities that hockey can be the conduit for. Our past pro was Mark Lofthouse, who is a great guy by the way. Listening to him tell stories about former teammates connecting with people around the province was amazing . Lots of our teammates also had great stories about some of the work they are doing with other very interesting hockey-related initiatives. Meeting past pros like Theoren Fleury and hearing about his struggles which are now triumphs and the help he is giving many people is just another example of the ability to do good through hockey.

It was a stellar weekend and really got me thinking more about what opportunities we can create for people or groups out there and also what existing initiatives we can take part in.

Our team at HockeyNow is launching the Experience Hockey campaign in January, which is dedicated to helping introduce new Canadians – both kids and parents – to hockey. We’ve already had some partners jump in with us and we are very excited about rolling it out as a four-part series that will have on-ice sessions for kids and off-ice workshops for their parents. Our goal is to do our part to help grow the game by giving new Canadians a chance to touch and feel some gear, get on the ice likely for the first time and feel that inexplicable feeling of the rink. 

That is another opportunity that hockey can create. I am very eager to see it unfold and you never know who we’ll meet along the way, but a door will definitely open to something incredible.

Another amazing story that will open some doors for people in and around hockey comes out of Prince George. I got a call this week from a 14-year-old bantam player’s dad. He wanted to let me know what his son was up to and see if we could help out at all. It turns out that this kid really wants to make a difference and had been looking for something to grab on to and dive in to. A teammate of his last year was having some struggles and mental health issues and long story short just quit hockey altogether this year. In an effort to help his friend and others who face similar struggles, this young hockey player did some research and has started to promote Mindcheck.ca in any way he can. He emailed me several letters that he sent to local arena managers to see if he could put up posters and hand out cards to players and families attending games to help grow awareness of the website and its initiatives. He also sent notes to sports reporters at big daily newspapers and NHL players –none have helped him yet, but I bet he’ll create his own opportunity and some of them will join in with him. If you aren’t familiar with the movement check out their site. It’s an incredible resource for people and their friends and families to get some help and direction on where to go for help and support when struggling with mental health issues. 

All this gives us at HockeyNow even more drive and passion to do our best to use our reach to open doors for people looking for good opportunities through hockey. 

As we enter into a dynamite part of the hockey season with the World Juniors, Christmas tournaments, Olympics and into playoff time I would encourage everyone to grab on to new opportunities that hockey presents and see where they will take you.

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