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Hockey is for Everyone

Zhongde Yu promoting hockey in China

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 3:10 PM / Hockey is for Everyone

Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Zhongde Yu left China, he was an energized student pursuing a Masters degree in Canada. When he returned, he was an energized hockey coach in a country still discovering the sport.

Born in China, Zhongde Yu first strapped on skates when he moved to Montreal in 1996 to pursue a computer science degree at Concordia University. He quickly became captivated by this new, action-packed game that inundated Canadian culture.

"That was a special moment, when I witnessed the hockey fans gathered outside the Forum for the last game played there," Yu told NHL.com. "And when I heard that the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup. Those are my first impressions of ice hockey in Canada."

While pursuing his studies and improving his English, Yu also began playing hockey, learning the game from friends and neighbors in Montreal.

At age 77, O'Ree has no plans to slow down

Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It's been more than 50 years since Willie O'Ree broke the NHL's color barrier on Jan. 18, 1958 with the Boston Bruins. The 15 years he's spent leading the National Hockey League's Hockey is for Everyone program have only cemented the legacy of the man who played professionally for 20 years with the use of only one good eye.

But don't call Willie O'Ree the Jackie Robinson of hockey.

"The media called me that. I never said I was Jackie Robinson. I didn't have to go through a lot of the racism and prejudice and bigotry that Mr. Robinson went through," O'Ree told NHL.com. "But it was there. Having slurs and racial remarks directed towards you, not only by players but fans in the stands. I let it in one ear and out the other. I just wanted to play hockey to the best of my ability."

O'Ree actually met Robinson twice, once as a 14-year-old baseball player visiting New York and years later as a member of the Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League.

Ciavaglia giving back through special hockey

Tuesday, 02.26.2013 / 9:48 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

"All the attributes you can get from a team sport like hockey, I wanted to be able to stress to the people I was working with. The confidence I got in life from hockey, the camaraderie, the teamwork, you can go on and on with the skills you develop in hockey."
-- Peter Ciavaglia

What happens when a professional hockey player hangs up his skates for the final time but still wants to be involved in the game? There is coaching or scouting, perhaps even a front-office position.

Then there is the route Peter Ciavaglia took.

A native of Albany, New York, and graduate of Harvard University, Ciavaglia played briefly in the NHL for the Buffalo Sabres but spent much of his career with the International Hockey League's Detroit Vipers. In his six seasons with the Vipers, Ciavaglia became fond of the team's charitable contributions.

"Just being involved in the community, I knew it was something I wanted to continue when I was done," Ciavaglia told NHL.com. "And I wanted to incorporate, if I could, hockey. It was a big part of my life."

Hasek's Heroes continue to help Buffalo youth

Monday, 02.25.2013 / 10:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It has been more than a decade since Dominik Hasek ended a historic nine-year run in Buffalo with the Sabres. Even though he hasn't patrolled the Buffalo crease for some time, he's still making a great contribution to the city.

That legacy for Hasek, who won the Hart Trophy twice and the Vezina Trophy a remarkable six times in Buffalo, began with the former goaltender's passion project: Hasek's Heroes. Hasek established the organization in 2001 with a personal donation of $1 million, at that time one of the largest individual donations to a single charity in sports history. Since then, Hasek's Heroes has worked tirelessly to help bring hockey to underprivileged young people around Buffalo, teaching them the sport along with the life lessons that come with it.

"Dominik is still very much a part of the program. Every year he contributes about $50,000 to the program," said Sean Green, the executive director of Hasek's Heroes. "He loves coming back to Buffalo. When he comes back, he wants to make sure he's on the ice with the kids, he wants to meet the parents. He doesn't just come in and say 'that's nice.'"

Congressman Quigley using hockey as a tool

Saturday, 02.23.2013 / 1:45 PM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Before being elected to Congress to represent Illinois' fifth district in 2009, Mike Quigley spent 20 years in public service in Chicago. But Quigley had another tool at his disposal when he came to Washington: He was a hockey player.

"Playing pond hockey [growing up], we made our own nets. My brother made one out of wood and chicken wire and nails," Quigley said. "I fell back onto it and cut the back of my scalp top to bottom. I finished the game. After that, how tough can politics be?"

In addition to his work in the U.S. House of Representatives, Quigley has served as chairman of the Congressional Hockey Caucus, worked with the USA Warriors hockey program, and been an advocate Hockey is For Everyone and Hockey on Your Block, a Chicago initiative aimed at giving disadvantaged youths a chance to discover the game.

Westlake serves as ambassador for sled hockey

Friday, 02.22.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

In 10 years since being named to the Canadian national sledge hockey team, Greg Westlake's biography has been highlighted by gold medals at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games in Torino and the 2008 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships in Marlborough, Mass., where he scored the decisive goal in the final against Norway.

But the 26-year-old Westlake, who had both legs amputated when he was only 18 months old, would rather discuss his charity work to promote Hockey is for Everyone initiatives that deliver the sport to people whose disabilities he describes as far worse than his own.

"We were doing a 'Try Sledge Hockey Day' in the east coast of Canada," said Westlake, who hails from Oakville, Ontario. "I had a guy come out, he broke his back in a car accident on the way home from his men's league game. He came out and was playing sledge hockey for the first time, he just had tears coming down. It was his first time on the ice in 11 years since his accident. He never thought he'd get to play hockey again."

Amherst's Stone making difference for LGBT athletes

Thursday, 02.21.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

It was scary for 9-year-old Avery Stone to commute from Providence, R.I., to play club hockey in Concord, Mass. It took her away from home and introduced her to a new level of competition. It also was the first time she remembers hearing teammates use gay slurs.

A decade later, as a junior on the Amherst University women's ice hockey team, Stone isn't afraid to be herself and share with her teammates who she is. But it's a transition that took some time for the junior English major, who first came out of the closet as a high school junior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.

"The people I met in Andover were just really nice. It was clear that it wasn't just tolerated, but accepted to be different. That's where I found my footing," Stone said. "I was the captain of two teams my senior year, which was a great affirmation that it doesn't matter who you are, just the kind of athlete and person you are. I saw it as a great honor to be a captain in field hockey and ice hockey."

N.J. Goals Ahead brings hockey to Newark youth

Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 10:10 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Imani Moody admits to stumbling upon the sport of ice hockey as a fifth grader growing up in inner-city Washington, D.C.

The experience was so memorable and life-altering it eventually led him to New Jersey Goals Ahead, a program founded in 2004 to provide financially challenged children in Newark with an opportunity to learn and play the sport as he did.

"We operate across three different public schools in Newark and have about 50 kids who participate in our sessions," said Moody, the program's chairman. "We're taking kids in the second and third grade, offering them a chance to learn to skate and stick-handle, introducing them to the sport, and instilling the discipline and character that's associated with it."

Hockey in Newark helping area youth fulfill dreams

Tuesday, 02.19.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Devils have partnered with HIN, providing economic support and equipment donation drives while working with the city to refurbish the local Ironbound Rink. (Photo: NJ Devils)

Every member associated with Hockey in Newark, past and present, has a dream.

"In 10 years, we'd like to see somebody drafted into the NHL out of Newark. And we feel very strongly about that," New Jersey Devils chairman and managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek told NHL.com.

Hockey in Newark may not be in the business of grooming NHL talent. But the group has instilled in local inner-city children and teenagers a hope and desire that may not have existed a decade ago.

As a result, participation in ice hockey among teens in the city continues to grow.

"Hockey equipment is expensive and ice costs can be astronomical, but HIN does more than teach children how to play hockey. It makes sure that the students are doing well academically," HIN graduate and current Princeton University freshman Kevin Lopez told NHL.com.

Hockey Without Borders shows power of sport

Monday, 02.18.2013 / 9:00 AM / Hockey is for Everyone

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the Slovenian national team clinching its first Olympic hockey berth, and Jarmo Kekalainen becoming the NHL's first European-born full-time general manager, the global hockey community continues to expand.

But one small group from Montreal is doing even more to demonstrate the reach of the sport.

It was just over a year ago that a few hockey players took on the mission of affecting positive change around the world and pursuing cultural exchange through the game they love. They founded Hockey Without Borders, a non-profit organization that already has made a mark internationally.

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