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Street Buds Buddy Up with Mats

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

by Rebecca Virgin

Monday November 13, 2006

Take a look at the photos

(TORONTO) - It was like déjà vu, for the tenth time.  Mats Sundin, captain of the Leafs, and honourary captain of the Street Buds for 10 years, and his appearance at Brown Community Centre kicked off a new season of ball hockey for kids across Toronto.

Street Buds is a community program organized through the City of Toronto's recreation centres in conjunction with the Leafs hockey development team, and of course Mats Sundin.

Mats is all smiles.
(Rebecca Virgin)

"It's my tenth year being the honourary captain and it's something I'm very proud of," said Sundin.  "The first thing that I learned when becoming a hockey players was street hockey and whether it was in front of the garage at home or whether it was at school or indoors like this, it's a great way to start enjoying and learning about the game of hockey."

Sundin spent the afternoon chatting with the kids, showing them a few pointers, and signing autographs.  He usually plays a game or two with the kids, but his sore elbow wouldn't allow for that this time around. 

However, Sundin was still the ideal guy for the job.

"Mats is the perfect role model for this program," said David De Freitas, manager, youth hockey development.  "Kids look up to him and everything that he does.  He's a genuine person and he understands the importance of the program, not only build their hockey skills but friendships as well."

And the Street Buds program is the ideal program for Esso to throw their sponsorship behind - helping to fund the staffing and equipment that is needed.

"Ultimately everyone that first gets into hockey starts at the community level," said Karen Fraser, Esso Imperial Oil, marketing sponsorship manager.  "So that's where our focus is - to give children and opportunity to introduce them into the game of hockey and develop those skills that hopefully will take them on to our national team or the professional ranks."

"It's also about staying fit and active, having fun, making friends and being a part of a team, all qualities that go beyond just sport," added Fraser.

Each year the launch of the program takes place at a different Community Centre.  So what made them the lucky recipients of the event this year?

"Brown Community Centre is a great place to host this," said De Freitas.  "They've been involved in this program for 12 years and each year they've been the champion in one of their divisions so there's no better place to hold this event."

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