Sven Baertschi isn't known for outlandish goal celebrations. Hands up, maybe a little fist pump; it's tame compared to many, but that's Baertschi - he's happy to have scored and can't wait to do it again.
The wild goal celebrations come from Baertschi's biggest little fans at HEROS, Hockey Education Reaching Out Society.
Baertschi first got involved with the organization, which uses hockey to teach life-skills and empower at risk youth, while playing for the Calgary Flames in 2014. As a HEROS ambassador, the 25-year-old Swiss forward is the face of hope for those involved in the program in Vancouver, where it was founded. He attends fund raisers, hosted kids to Canucks games, skates with the kids on Tuesday nights when the Canucks schedule permits, and donates $500 to the program for every goal he scores through Sven Scores for HEROS.
This season is still young and already Baertschi has five goals, meaning $2,500 to HEROS to help his heroes. It's a small price to pay for Baertschi, who absolutely loves working with the HEROS kids.
"They're also so happy and up-beat, it's amazing to see," said Baertschi, who scored his fifth goal of the season last Thursday in Anaheim. "Knowing I'm able to make a difference for these kids is important to me. Being able to connect my career with helping them is even better. I've never enjoyed scoring goals so much!"
Baertschi is coming off a career-best 18-goal season and with five already this year, he looks to set a new personal best. Everyone would be equally thrilled if that were the case.
HEROS, a volunteer-driven registered Canadian charity, uses hockey as a catalyst to attract youth to a program offering support for education, self-esteem building, and life skills training. HEROS' free programing has helped more than 7,000 boys and girls over the past 17 years, including 700 through the 20 programs in nine Canadian cities last year.
Dougie Hamilton, Curtis Lazar and Jay Bouwmeester are a few of the other NHLers involved with this growing program that offers kids a "team for life."
The four fundamental behaviours of HEROS include Listening, Respect, Discipline and Having Fun. That last point, having fun, is key for Baertschi, who understands the difficulties and pressures involved with fitting in. That's where hockey comes in.
"Coming from Switzerland, I know how hockey can make a person feel included and fit in. Sport is a great way to meet friends and what HEROS does is no different. It's great to see that each kid has their own unique story, but when they're all together, no matter what city it is across Canada, they are all equals, they are all empowered, they are all HEROS."
Now it's easy to understand why Baertschi's goal celebration is fairly calm - there's always another goal to be scored, and more money to be raised, for the kids.