TORONTO - It says something about the NHL's commitment to supporting the fight against cancer when the toughest player on the Toronto Maple Leafs goes out of his way to wear pink.
Colton Orr recently put in a request with equipment manufacturer Reebok to see what they could come up with for the league's Hockey Fights Cancer month. The company delivered hand-painted pink skates for the Toronto forward to wear in Saturday night's game against the New York Rangers.
Orr is believed to be the first hockey player to wear pink skates and he did so in memory of Todd Davison, a former teammate with the WHL's Regina Pats who died in 2006 after fighting a rare form of cancer.
"I had a teammate and friend, he was 18 and he passed away from synovial sarcoma," Orr said Saturday morning. "Just being involved in any kind of cancer awareness is a privilege and an honour for me to help out any way I can."
Orr's skates were painted by artist David Arrigo and will be auctioned off for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
A number of NHL players have found unique ways to join the fight against cancer. New York Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro had all pink gear made—pads, blocker and glove—while others have used pink sticks, pink tape and had pink ribbons put on their helmets. NHL coaches and managers have joined the act by wearing pink ties.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson would like to see even more pink next October.
"You watch the NFL and the whole month everybody's wearing pink," said Wilson. "It's pretty cool that (Colton's) managed to do that. The skates weren't made pink, they're spray-painted by a graphic artist, and they look pretty good."
Orr referred to Saturday as a "big night" for the Leafs organization. In addition to his pink skates, Wilson and his coaching staff planned to wear pink ties while forward Colby Armstrong purchased a private suite and invited kids from Camp Trillium.
"So many people have been affected by this," said Orr. "It's just great to be able to support this. A lot of the NHL players are involved and I think it's a great cause."