MONTREAL - Back in October, assistant coach Luke Richardson revealed that he "probably [has] more purple in [his] wardrobe than any man in North America."
His outfit for Wednesday night's tilt against the Arizona Coyotes at the Bell Centre will have a few of those purple accents as the Canadiens host their Hockey Talks program for a seventh consecutive year.
Richardson, along with the rest of the Habs' coaching staff, management and players, will all be sporting purple "Do It For Daron" (DIFD) dress socks to mark the occasion. Coaches and management will also be wearing purple DIFD ties during the game.
DIFD was created in memory of Richardson's daughter, Daron, who passed away from suicide in November 2010. She was just 14 years old.
DIFD is a movement focused on raising awareness and inspiring conversation about suicide and youth mental health by promoting open dialogue around these issues in hopes of preventing such tragedies from happening again.
The socks are purple because that was Daron's favorite color.
"We're honored to be a part of this. I think it's a good stage, especially with the way young people look up to NHL players. They're superheroes to kids, so if players talk about it then maybe it's a little easier for others to talk about a subject that's still not so comfortable in our society yet," explained Richardson. "We're starting to break some barriers, little by little. The more we do it, the more comfortable people will get."
Richardson's wife, Stephanie, was recently featured in a powerful public service announcement for the Bell Let's Talk mental health initiative.
Bell Let's Talk Day will be held on January 30.
At the core of Stephanie's message, according to the former NHL defenseman, is an emphasis on communication.
"It's all about having a conversation, opening a discussion with your children and then really listening and saying - 'I'm here for you. I understand. I felt like that at your age.' It could be at the breakfast table. For kids, it could be with your brother or sister, your guidance counsellor at your school, your hockey coach or your teacher. It could be anyone you have a comfort level with speaking to. I think help grows from there. That's why we're trying to get the message out to youth," mentioned Richardson. "This is a conversation that you have to leave open. Kids want you to know how they feel and they want to feel supported. I think that's our biggest message."
And, added Richardson, the sooner youngsters know that help is readily available, the better.
"It's good for everyone to feel good about themselves, supported and not alone," concluded the 49-year-old Ottawa native. "The earlier you get that message to young people, they know it's there and they can ask questions, get information and get help figuring things out."
To learn more about the way the Canadiens are supporting mental health initiatives this month, click here.
To purchase the DIFD socks and other DIFD items, click here.
To learn more about DIFD, click here.