It’s in our nature, on both the written and read sides of the page, to concentrate and sensationalize the negative aspects of sports (waffles, anyone?). But in light of the day and its meaning, it’s a good time to celebrate a small sample of the positive things NHLers and their teams have done over the holiday season:
• Almost every organization held toy and food drives throughout the month of December, spurring fans to donate by offering raffle tickets, free food, or other prizing in exchange for their donation. The Sabres provided a $20 voucher off a $60 ticket for an upcoming game.
• The entire Bruins team split up into groups and visited seven local hospitals on Dec. 21 to deliver approximately $22,500 worth of toys the team and its foundation had purchased. That’s just one example. Many players take time to visit hospitals as Christmas creeps near. You can watch the Wings in action in a video on their website.
• Detroit was also one of a number of teams that collected winter wear to keep those in need warm. The Oilers, for instance, teamed with the United Way in an effort to gather 19,000 coats, topping last year’s total of 17,700.
• Being a jersey aficionado, the Sharks continuing effort of creating, wearing, signing and then auctioning season-specific jerseys caught my attention. The Coyotes, meanwhile, are holding an online auction consisting of a full set of autographed game-worn jerseys from their NHL Premiere games in Prague.
• The Coyotes are also putting up for bid sets of Christmas cards personally designed and hand-drawn by players. Reasonable, too, at only $12.
• And as a league-wide initiative, the NHL has partnered with Rock and Wrap It Up!, a group that organizes the distribution of unsold concession food after concerts and other events. On game nights, every NHL club is packing up all those leftover pretzels, hot dogs and nachos and passing them along to local shelters and places of need.
Community work isn’t the sole domain of the big boys, however. The American League is doing its part, too:
• Teddy Bear tosses are a popular way for teams to give back (unless there’s a bed bug scare). But few have done it better than Hershey, which collected more than 7,000 of the namesakes in early December. Check the video on YouTube.
• The Chicago Wolves helped collect toys other than bears by offering signed-jersey raffle tickets for anyone who donated a gift during three December home games.
• And if you’ve got insomnia and a hankering to skate alongside a pro hockey player, Grand Rapids has you covered with their “Great Skate." For 24 straight hours, Griffins players and coaches take part in a skating marathon with proceeds going to the to the team’s youth foundation.
These are just a few of the small deeds players and teams do throughout the year. But to those who benefit from their charity, it hits home in a big way – especially this time of year. Merry Christmas.
Edward Fraser is the managing editor of The Hockey News. His blog appears regularly.
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