With Breast Cancer Awareness month in full swing, teams and players around the league are throwing their support behind the cause. But during last Saturday’s San Jose Sharks game, defenseman Jason Demers brought new meaning to our slogan, “even if you wear pink, you can still rock the rink.” Demers arrived at the SAP Center in San Jose donning a bright pink suit, all for a good cause.
For a player, donning a pink inspired piece of equipment is the easiest way to show the hockey world that breast cancer awareness has your full backing, but Demers took a different route.
“We have a suit rep [Giovanni, that works with the NHL] that comes in every year, I was going through the fabric and it popped up. I thought it would be cool to do the pink suit, something simple for breast cancer awareness month. I asked him to make it as quickly as he could and he did a fantastic job getting it done. It turned out pretty nice and I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from it.”
Some of that feedback coming from media and the fans, but within the locker room as well.
“The guys gave me a lot of laughs, but said it made sense that it would be me to wear it. Nothing too bad, not too much ribbing because everyone is supportive of a good cause. Obviously the color isn’t a normal one, but it’s for a good cause.”
With October being the official month of breast cancer awareness and a pink statement piece hanging in his closest, one can’t help but wonder if it’ll make a return to the rink before the months end.
“Maybe, we’ll see. I might wait until next year, but there’s a chance I’ll pull it out again. We only have one more home game, so it’s tough, but it’ll be more of a one year thing or every year during breast cancer awareness month.”
Often equipment and other memorabilia made specifically in support of the cause are auctioned off to raise money, a concept that hasn’t been ruled out, but isn’t on the table this season, yet.
“I think I need to build a little more notoriety on it, but for sure. It might be one of those things that down the line it’ll be a good thing. I had full outfits planned and I had shoes specially made with the breast cancer ribbon, but they didn’t get made in time. Maybe next year, if I get those I’ll wear it and think about selling it off.”
With breast cancer awareness at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, it’s important to note the support the NHL, teams and players give towards the Hockey Fights Cancer movement. Furthering that notion, players often relish in the opportunity to give back to the communities in which they play. On October 7th, Demers along with fellow teammates and Sharks personnel took time to visit the El Camino Oncology Center. Signing autographs and taking pictures aside, it was the opportunity to get to know the patients that touched Demers.
“It’s a very humbling experience, it’s something you need to see and do as a player and as a person. To see that we’re not all roses and tulips in life, some people have it hard. It was cool to meet some good people, they’re all amazing people. It touched me to talk with some of them, and get their story. I think it’s important to give back, especially with our occupation, we’re role models. If you can make one persons day, that’s enough I think.”
The Sharks are well known for lending time and support to charities, throughout the season, but the chance to give back doesn’t end when the cup is hoisted, it extends to the off-season months as well. While many players have their own charities and foundations, those who do not often opt to lend a glove where it’s needed.
“I don’t have any that I host on my own or charities that I’ve started, but I work a lot with Patrice Bergeron and his foundation for leukemia in kids. I know Ryan Clowe has a foundation in Newfoundland that I visit in the summer for kids as well. I try to help where I can and maybe one of these days I’ll start a foundation, but I try to visit whenever I can and I jump at the opportunity. It’s always fun to meet some great people.”
With the season in full swing and an east coast road trip on the horizon, the Sharks have managed to find success early in the season.
“We’ve had a good start to the season so far and it’s been about maintaining that. Offensively things have been going well for me and I’m trying to maintain that. It’s fun when your team is winning and having success as a team. It helps you individually as well. I think we just have to keep rolling and keep playing the way we’ve been playing. It’s fun to have the start we got and everyone benefits from it.”
Moving forward, the Sharks will look to capitalize on their success on the ice and continue to support the community and charitable initiatives off of it, in this case one pink suit at a time.