April Salvador, wife of Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador (L) and Jill Schneider, wife of goaltender Cory Schneider, sell Hockey Fights Cancer tee shirts during Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night prior to the game between the Devils and Blues on Tuesday night. (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Devils’ Tuesday night matchup with the Blues took on a little more meaning than usual as the team and Prudential Center dedicated the evening to Hockey Fights Cancer, a league-wide initiative started by the National Hockey League in 1998. In total, the Devils helped raised awareness and more than $30,000 to fight all forms of cancer.
While Hockey Fights Cancer Night is an NHL initiative, each team has the ability to decide how it implements the campaign. From in-arena events, including a mystery puck station and a 50/50 raffle, to special marketing on game tickets, the Devils made the night special for fans in attendance.
Within minutes of the doors opening at 5:30 p.m., the mystery puck booth, run by the players’ wives and girlfriends, was swamped and the line for fans to buy pucks extended from within the New Jersey Hockey area into the main concourse. The 50/50 raffle alone raised over $7,400 and fans were also able to buy Hockey Fights Cancer apparel and merchandise at the Devils team stores throughout Prudential Center, with all proceeds going to the cause.
During a stoppage of play in the third period, New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center President Hugh Weber, and mascot N.J. Devil, presented a check to executives and medical staff from Holy Name Medical Center, Atlantic Health System and St. Barnabas Medical Center, representing the funds raised through various events during the game. The money will go directly to help support cancer research and provide care for patients.
In addition to raising money, the Devils recognized Anthony Daniels, a 23-year-old cancer survivor and former hockey player. Daniels was first diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when he was 19 years old.
Daniels was the subject of the recent documentary “To Be Strong” that chronicled his pursuit of treatment as well as training as a boxer. His form of cancer is rare enough that he has yet to find a match in a national database of over 20 million donors.
The special night also featured the daughter of a cancer survivor singing the national anthem, the ice crew and youth hockey players decked out in purple jerseys and shirts throughout the game, and N.J. Devil sporting a cape, as he prepared to fight cancer.
Near the end of the first period and during the second intermission, Delete Blood Cancer took over the scoreboard for a PSA encouraging people to register as bone marrow donors. The American Cancer Society as well as The Valerie Fund joined Delete Blood Cancer with PSAs during the second intermission.