You sit there and you’re miserable at home because you missed an empty net or there was a goal disallowed or something like that. Then you realize they might not be coming back with their lives or their families might not see them again. It really puts it in perspective for you. - Joe Colborne
CALGARY, AB -- Joe knows.
Forward Joe Colborne plans on being front and center as the Calgary Flames host Canadian Armed Forces Appreciation Night at Scotiabank Saddledome on Monday against the San Jose Sharks.
It’s a night that hits the heart of the 25-year-old.
“It’s obviously something that I hold pretty close to my heart,” Colborne said. “I just think the sacrifices that our military makes are so incredible and they don’t receive anywhere near enough credit for what they do. They’re the real heroes out there and the ones who deserve to be getting the fanfare and everything like that.
“They don’t complain. They don’t go into that expecting to get it. I think that’s what makes it so special. They don’t expect anything. Anytime we can give back and let them have a fun night like this is fun for us to do.”
For the tenth consecutive season, the Flames will welcome over 550 Canadian Armed Forces members, family members and veterans to the game, which will honour them for their services with the Canadian Armed Forces.
To mark the night, the Flames will honour Reservists from the Canadian Armed Forces. The Reservists are local Calgarians with day jobs, but volunteer and train to become soldiers.
“We get so caught up in chances not going in and stuff like that. You sit there and you’re miserable at home because you missed an empty net or there was a goal disallowed or something like that,” Colborne said. “Then you realize they might not be coming back with their lives or their families might not see them again. It really puts it in perspective for you.
“People are starting to figure out they’re the reason we are safe and the reason we can come to the rink and enjoy games like this, but we just don’t do enough to let them know how appreciative we are.”
“Support Our Troops” merchandise will be on-sale on the concourse in Section 223 & The Chrysler Club. The Flames will also be selling commemorative Reebok Calgary Flames military caps with all proceeds to be directed to “Support Our Troops.” The Flames Foundation will also donate a portion of the proceeds from the evening’s 50/50 sales to the Military Families Fund.
Colborne hosts, in partnership with Packers Plus Energy Services Inc., members of the Canadian Forces at every home game in an initative dubbed Colborne’s Forces.
“We have them in our locker room after every game with [Colborne],” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Those guys, they serve our country. They put their lives on the line everyday for us. To recognize this…this is one thing since all those recent wars and battles…that’s one thing I think pro sports all over the world, they show great respect to the armed forces.
“Whether you’re a firefighter, whether you’re a cop, whether you’re a soldier, you put your life on the line to serve people and for me, that’s the ultimate commitment that you can make to a community. It’s a great honour for those guys and we’re happy to be part with them.”
Colborne has purchased season’s tickets for Canadian Forces members to attend every Flames home game. Following the game, the Canadian Forces guests meet the Flames forward and check out the team’s locker room. The guests are also saluted in-game.
So for Colborne, Armed Forces Appreciation Night especially hits home.
“Just to see them standing there and you can see some of them getting emotional…they’re not used to that,” he said. “We score a goal and everyone’s cheering for you. They don’t get that opportunity. They go out and do their jobs. They’re in Afghanistan or overseas somewhere. They don’t have a single person cheering them on. It’s all on them. It’s nice for them to finally get a chance to appreciate what they do. It’s always nice to hear too that fans are going up and buying them a beer or shaking their hand and thanking them when they see them on the concourse. That means a lot to me.”