GLENDALE -- Coyotes goalie Mike Smith, and other current and former NHL players, will be in Watson Lake, Yukon, this weekend to stage a two-day, free hockey camp for kids as part of the NHLPA's Goals and Dreams 15th Anniversary celebration tour.
According to organizers, Smith and the other players will engage Yukon youth in the sport of hockey, encouraging healthy lifestyles through physical activity and teamwork.
|Mike Smith. |
"I'm very excited about it," Smith said. "It's a great opportunity to give back to a community that doesn't get a lot of attention and it's a chance for us to continue to grow the game of hockey."
The event is the brainchild of Jean-Michel Sauve, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who lives in Watson Lake. He pitched the idea to Smith during a hunting trip they took last year in the Yukon, and Smith immediately committed to participate. So did Smith's father, who also was on the hunting trip.
Soon after the hunting trip, Sauve approached the NHLPA with the idea. It was approved and added to the Goals and Dreams tour as the final stop.
"Hockey is healthy in Whitehorse and so by giving priority to rural Yukon, we hope to raise the profile of the game in the smaller communities and create excitement for our youth, parents and community volunteers," Sauve said in a statement. "We want to grow the sport exponentially from where it is currently, which in turn could provide an opportunity for some youth to develop their skills to a higher level, and further their education while focusing on the sport in or outside the Yukon."
Watson Lake is located in the southeastern Yukon, just north of its border with British Columbia. With a population of about 1,200 people, the town sits 2,280 feet above sea level, and is 275 miles southeast of Whitehorse, YT, and 330 miles northwest of Fort Nelson, BC.
"It's such a beautiful place," Smith said. "The Yukon features some of the most untouched land and some of the more remote little villages in our country. I was able to go there last year and I’m really looking forward to going back and visiting with the kids and having a great time."
|Mike Smith. Photo by Getty Images. |
The two-day camp will include on-ice clinics each day, player talks, a fishing derby, and a community potlatch (gift-giving feast). In addition, NHLPA Goals & Dreams has committed to donate $20,000 worth of youth hockey equipment to Watson Lake. One hundred kids are expected to attend.
Other current/former players scheduled to attend include B.J. Crombeen, Mike Crombeen, David Booth and Brent Gilchrist.
"I've really enjoyed teaching kids hockey in the past and I really think it helped my game as far as being a player," Smith said. "Once you're teaching kids and reiterating the fundamentals of hockey, I think it's amazing how much you learn yourself. But that's obviously not the goal at this camp. The goal at this camp is to teach the kids about the game we love and to have fun interacting with them on and off the ice. I can't wait."
About NHLPA Goals & Dreams
Launched in 1999 as a way for the players to give back to the game they love, NHLPA Goals & Dreams (G&D) has donated over $22 million to grassroots hockey programs. Over the past 15 years, more than 70,000 deserving children have benefited from receiving G&D donations of full sets of hockey equipment. The players’ program has also assisted with upgrades and the building of hundreds of arenas worldwide in addition to the hockey equipment donations. G&D donations have spanned a total of 33 countries to date: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Canada, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mongolia, Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine and the United States of America. For more information, please visit www.nhlpa.com.