Every team has a rivalry and almost every fan of the game loves one team and hates another. It’s the age old equation that makes any sport so popular. While you might find yourself loving or hating specific guys on the ice; their is no denying that it’s hard not to like them when they’re taking part in events around the community. Almost every NHL team has a foundation that focuses on raising money to better the communities that support them every season.
It’s no secret that athletes have a range of reputations; but with the occasional bad comes the exceptionally good. In no specific order, here’s a few NHL’ers who take the term “giving back” to a Stanley Cup level.
10. Scott Hartnell (Philadelphia Flyers)
You’d think to play in the big show, you’d have to have a lot of balance. For Hartnell he’s chosen to put his occasional slip ups to good use with the #HartnellDown campaign. Selling t-shirts and hats on the website with all proceeds going towards the Hartnell Down Foundation. Hartnell estimates #HartnellDown has raised about $30,000 already with the numbers sure to grow. A hockey player with a sense of humour putting his name to good use. Perhaps the term should be HartnellUp; thumbs up for this Flyer.
9. Marian Gaborik (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Many people think NHL and the words Canada or North American aren’t far behind. Occasionally an afterthought, many players hail from overseas. Gaborik who hails from Trencin, Slovakia; in 2005 he opened an ice rink in his native city. Arena Mariána Gáboríka was opened at a personal cost to Gaborik of approximately 50 million Slovak crowns. The rink hosts programs to better the youth hockey community, a fitness center and overnight accommodations for those players participating in the programs. Gaborik is a hands on member of the rink and it’s programs during the off season. In addition, he also is the founder of the Marian Gaborik Foundation, which supports his dream of expanding youth hockey in Slovakia
8. Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers)
Another player who is partnering up to help out his childhood community. A native of Hearst, Ontario; Giroux is aiming to help raise money for the Centre Claude-Giroux Centre. The centre focuses on rehabilitation and physiotherapy. With the closest rehabilitation facility over 300 kilometers away, it’s necessary for Hearst to have a place to rely on. With Giroux’s efforts it will hopefully be possible to make this addition to the community that helped foster an NHL superstar.
7. Mike Modano (Former Dallas Star)
After playing for 21 NHL seasons, Modano retired on September 21, 2011. With that many seasons under his pads, it’s no wonder Modano has become one of the most charitably active players. Modano is the founder and current Vice President of the Mike Modano Foundation, Inc. A foundation which raises awareness and funds for organizations offering education and assistance to children and families affected by child abuse. In addition, Modano is also an active participant in the Texan community and many of it’s charities.
6. Vincent Lecavalier (Formerly of Tampa Bay Lightning, currently Philadelphia Flyers)
They say that Lighting never strikes the same place twice. In the instance of Lecavalier it’s safe to say that this lightning strikes all over the community. Receiving the NHL Foundation award in 2008, after his foundation committed $3 million to building efforts in 2007. Lecavalier saw his efforts come to fruition in January 2010 with the opening of the Vincent Lecavalier Pediatric Center and Blood Disorders Center at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Vinny Lecavalier Foundation helps to build hope for children battling pediatric cancer and blood disorders; as well as to help fund medical research. According to the foundation website, the center expected to perform 50 bone marrow transplants, see 125 new patients and treat 4,000 kids on an outpatient basis in 2011 alone.
5. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres)
As goaltender for the Sabres, Miller is known for making saves on the ice. But it’s his off ice tactics that earned him the NHL Foundation award during the 2009-10 season. Along with his father Dean, Miller started the Steadfast Foundation which supports cancer patients and their families. The foundation is aimed at helping garner support and funding for children and their families during all phases of treatment. Events, fundraisers and auctions are held throughout the season and the year.
4. Alexei Kovalev (Former NHL’er currently with the KHL)
Spending 18 seasons in the NHL and playing for various teams gave Kovalev the chance to bring his charity work around North America and now internationally. The Kovalev and friends for kids Foundation’s mission is to ensure and promote the physical and emotional health of young cardiac patients. The foundation looks for ways to better the lives of young patients through sport, educational, artistic and most importantly fun activities. Hosting and participating as a sometimes counselor, Kovalev’s foundation has a summer camp in Quebec for patients and a guest. With activities such as fencing, swimming, field trips to the Belle Center and of course hockey.
3. Trevor Linden (Former Vancouver Canucks)
For many the name Linden is most notable on the back of a Canucks jersey. After playing 19 NHL seasons with 4 different teams, Linden retired in 2008. Although he’s not on an active roster anymore, Linden is still active with The Trevor Linden Foundation. Established in 1997, the foundation looks to lend support to children with special needs . It also serves to improve the lives of young Canadians through educational initiatives. If his own foundation wasn’t enough, Linden lends his name and time to other charitable causes year round. To top it all off, in conjunction with the Vancouver Canucks, Linden launched the Trevor Linden Community Spirit Scholarship. The scholarship awards 4 scholarships to British Columbia students with not only good academic standing; but also exceptional contributions to their communities.
2. Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens)
Even if you aren’t a Canadiens fan the name Pacioretty probably sticks out in your hockey data bank. During the 2010-11 season, Pacioretty sustained a fairly traumatic hit during a game against the Boston Bruins. Fast forward to this season where Pacioretty is thankfully healthy and back in the game. However, he hasn’t forgotten The Montreal General Hospital that gave him and his family support throughout the ordeal. In partnership with The Montreal General Hospital Pacioretty launched The Max Pacioretty Foundation at the start of this season. The foundation is hoping to raise upwards of $3.5 million to go towards the establishment of a new MRI facility at the hospital. For now Pacioretty is already helping on a smaller scale with the donation of an advanced functional MRI machine for the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre.
1. Cam Neely (Retired Boston Bruin and current Boston Bruin President)
The name Neely is synonymous with the NHL. After playing 3 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Neely played the rest of his career with the Boston Bruins. The name Neely goes hand and hand with the Boston community. The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care was launched in 1995 by the Neely family after the passing of both parents to cancer. In addition to the foundation, The Neely Cancer Fund and The Neely House are also part of the charitable network that bears the Neely name. To date the foundation has raised close to $18 million dollars, with the sole purpose of helping cancer patients and their families during treatment. A breakdown as stated on The Cam Neely Foundation website
“The Cam Neely Foundation makes it all financially possible. The special relationship with Tuft’s Medical Center’s Cancer Center ensures easy access to Boston’s world-renowned medical facilities and unmatched compassionate care. Together, we recognize that everyone’s needs are unique, and therefore we strive to provide whatever care, emotional supports, and hope possible to facilitate the healing process.
The Neely House provides a convenient, comfortable place to live, relax and talk to others. The Neely Cancer Fund supports treatment and research efforts.”
Neely has certainly taken his charitable efforts above and beyond and continues to do so every year.
0. National Hockey League
The NHL is dedicated to giving back. With countless initiatives, it’s not just the teams or players themselves but the NHL as a whole. http://www.nhl.com/nhlhq/community/index.html
The league urges it’s players to give back and while many do without recognition; a few go above and beyond every season and that’s where the NHL Foundation Player Award comes in. Awarded annually to the NHL player “who applies the core values of ice hockey—commitment, perseverance and teamwork—to enrich the lives of people in his community”. The winner is given a grant of$25,000 to help a cause(s) that they support. The recipient of the NHL Foundation Player Award is decided by a panel that consists of NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHL executives Pat Flatley, Bernadette Mansur and Kenneth Martin, Jr.
It’s important to keep in mind that it isn’t just NHL players who are using their names for the common good. Athletes in all sports are constantly participating in charity events. http://www.athlebrities.com/ is a neat site to check out for charity events and news regarding your favorite athletes from around the leagues.
Many players also set up programs through their teams every season. For example this season the Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron has Patrice’s Pals. The program brings children from local hospitals to a game at TD Garden in a special luxury suite, recognition on the jumbo-tron and of course a little one of one time with Bergeron himself.
Brad Marchand has Brad’s Brigade which gives pediatric cancer patients and their families a chance to enjoy the magic at a Bruins home game, a gift card to be redeemed in the pro shop and of course a chance to meet Marchand as well.
Although not skating this season due to the long term effects from a concussion Marc Savard donated a suite at the TD Garden for use through the 2014 season. Patients suffering from the effects of head trauma from both a medical and psychological standpoint will have a small reprieve at a game with thanks to Savard.
For more information about player specific charities, foundations and events local to your community it’s best to check out team websites:
Anaheim Ducks: http://ducks.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/foundation
Boston Bruins: http://bruins.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/foundation
Buffalo Sabres: http://sabres.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=36587
Calgary Flames: http://flames.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/flames_foundation
Carolina Hurricanes: http://hurricanes.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/foundation
Chicago Blackhawks: http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/charities
Colorado Avalanche: http://avalanche.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=32582
Columbus Blue Jackets: http://www.bluejacketsfoundation.org/
Dallas Stars: http://stars.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=39286
Detroit Red Wings: http://redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=590418#
Edmonton Oilers: http://oilers.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/eocf/microsite
Florida Panthers: http://panthers.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/PanthersFoundation
Los Angeles Kings: http://kings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=63366
Minnesota Wild: http://wild.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=59017
Montreal Canadiens: http://foundation.canadiens.com/en/
Nashville Predators: http://predators.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=37108
New Jersey Devils: http://devils.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=42011
New York Islanders: http://islanders.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=75382
New York Rangers: http://rangers.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=53850
Ottawa Senators: http://www.sensfoundation.com/en/
Philadelphia Flyers: http://www.esyhf.org/
Phoenix Coyotes: http://coyotes.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=32664
Pittsburgh Penguins: http://pittsburghpenguinsfoundation.org/
St. Louis Blues: http://blues.nhl.com/v2/ext/14fund/index.html
San Jose Sharks: http://www.thesharksfoundation.com/
Tampa Bay Lightning: http://lightning.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=50496
Toronto Maple Leafs: http://mapleleafs.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=42205
Vancouver Canucks: http://canucks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=40129
Washington Capitals: http://capitals.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=42563
Winnipeg Jets: http://jets.nhl.com/club/microhome.htm?location=/winnipeg_jets_true_north_foundation