By Cory Wright
Hockey fans are learning that despite the NHL’s ongoing lockout, life goes on. The same can be said of the league’s sponsors, most notably Kraft, who after cancelling their Hockeyville program for 2013, have started a new one: Hockey Goes On.
Kraft Canada is launching the initiative to support minor hockey across the country, donating $1 million to associations coast to coast.
“Our membership is genuinely excited,” Scott Smith, Hockey Canada’s chief operation officer said. “If you look at the number of volunteers that it takes to serve our membership of over 600,000 players, there’s a significant amount of effort on a weekly basis. This is a great way to recognize that effort in communities across the country.”
The program is looking to recognize the top 25 hockey volunteers across the country and the money will be donated to their associations. The top five volunteers will receive $100,000, while the other 20 will receive $20,000 towards their local hockey associations. The remaining $100,000 is going to Hockey Canada to fund Learn to Skate programs at the local level.
Canadians can nominate their local volunteers at www.KraftHockeyGoesOn.ca from Jan. 21 – Mar. 8, 2013. A panel will determine the top 100 volunteers and they will be put to a national vote from Mar. 23-30, 2013 to ultimately determine the winners. The top five winning communities will be announced on the final day of national voting.
“I fully expect there will be great stories that are presented about individuals who behind the scenes contribute to the organization of hockey at the community level,” Smith said. “Individuals who provide great support through a number of different initiatives – maybe equipment donation, training of coaches and officials.”
Since 2006, Hockeyville has honored Canada’s most passionate hockey communities with an NHL pre-season game, $100,000 in arena upgrades from Kraft and a live Hockey Night in Canada broadcast from the winning community. The four runners-up benefitted from $25,000 in arena upgrades and food bank contributions were also made.