Numerous players around the NHL do their part to raise money for charity and improve their community.
Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators, John-Michael Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Matt Moulson of the New York Islanders stood out among their peers, and for that reason they have been nominated for the 2012 NHL Foundation Player Award, presented to "an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey -- commitment, perseverance and teamwork -- to enrich the lives of people in his community."
The winner of the award will be announced at the 2012 NHL Awards Show, June 20 at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas, with the winning player receiving $25,000 to donate to their chosen charitable organization.
When Liles arrived in Toronto in this past summer, he started the Liles' Buds program, an initiative he developed early in the season in partnership with The Canadian Safe School Network (CSSN) that recognizes children who perform acts of kindness and give back to their community through anti-bullying efforts. Liles donated 10 suite nights to this program, valued at $33,000, to Maple Leafs games during the 2011-12 season to children from the CSSN, Autism Speaks Canada and Cardiac Kids. Liles further demonstrated his dedication to education through a $25,000 donation to the First Book Canada program, money that purchased 5,000 books, supporting First Book Canada's mission to address the challenge of literacy in Canada at its root by providing new, age and language appropriate books to children who otherwise would not be able to access them.
Liles also participated in the Canadian Military's Operation HOHOHO, served breakfast to the homeless at University Settlement in Toronto for three hours on Christmas morning, visited numerous terminally ill patients at local hospitals, and was an ambassador of the Leafs School program Shape Up, which is a program available to schools in the Greater Toronto Area that focuses on creating healthy, active living opportunities for children and youth in Grades 1-8.
Liles was the Leafs' leader in community appearances this season, visiting and signing autographs for children at numerous team events in support of the charitable arm of the Maple Leafs, the MLSE Team Up Foundation, and was an active participant in all of the Leafs' full team events, including the Leafs and Legends Charity Golf Classic, Have a Heart Dinner, Outdoor Practice, SickKids Hospital visit, Easter Seals Skate and One4One.
In addition, he donated approximately $90,000 to the renovation of the locker room facilities at Culver (Ind.) Academy, where he played prep-school hockey. This included the purchase of new training equipment for training stations for inside and outside the rink. His monetary donation also was enough to cover the teams' tournament entry fees, equipment purchases and other expenses for the hockey season.
Since coming to Nashville in February 2011, Fisher has developed strong relationships with a number of non-profit organizations: Room In the Inn, a full-service homeless facility located a few blocks from Bridgestone Arena; Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt; and Cottage Cove Urban Ministries, a Nashville based non-profit organization that serves inner-city youth.
Fisher donated $40,000 to Cottage Cove to purchase a van for the youth center and renovate their music room. He's also purchased tickets for the Fisher's Friends ticket program for youth organizations. In September 2011, Fisher released the book, "Defender of Faith: The Mike Fisher Story," geared toward children ages 9-11 that highlights his faith journey, with all sales benefitting World Vision, and autographed copies sold at Bridgestone Arena raising money for Room In the Inn.
Fisher and his wife also are seen at various charity fundraisers in the Middle Tennessee area, including events for The Peterson Foundation for Parkinson's and Rocketown, and he is an annual participant in the Garth Brooks Teammates for Kids Foundation program.
Moulson, along with his brother-in-law, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, created the 326 Foundation to benefit the Islanders Children's Foundation and the Kings Care Foundation. This year, Moulson donated $500 for each of his career-high 36 goals for a total of $18,000 to the 326 Foundation. In two seasons of the program's existence, he's donated $32,500 to the program thanks to his 65 goals.
In one of Moulson's other major charitable initiatives this past season, he teamed with the Wounded Warrior Project, which raises awareness and enlists the public's aid for the needs of injured service members, to host a military veteran from WWP and one of their family members at every one of the team's 41 home games for a one-of-a-kind, VIP experience that brought veterans to games and inside the locker room afterward.
In October, he stepped up as the Islanders' spokesman for Hockey Fights Cancer, and in November he led his teammates and hockey fans around the world in the Movember movement, growing mustaches to create awareness and generate fundraising for men's health issues. Moulson utilized social networking, primarily his Twitter account (@MMoulson), to encourage donations from fans and fellow players.
Moulson also led extensive, full-team participation in the Islanders' annual holiday toy shopping event, holiday hospital visits and the Islanders School Day assembly program for children. He became a spokesman for the Islanders Hockey Academy, too, where he promoted the growth of youth hockey on Long Island, along with healthy habits and the importance of fitness for kids. Later in the season, Moulson was one of the first players to join the You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation.
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor