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Coyotes' Bleackley to help Fort McMurray effort

Prospect, Red Deer forward donating $20 for each goal his team scores in Memorial Cup

by @NHL

Conner Bleackley has a lot on his plate these days.

Bleackley's junior team, Red Deer of the Western Hockey League, is hosting the Memorial Cup, and the 20-year-old is trying to overcome a devastating and accidental wrist injury that has kept him out since March 19. He is also embroiled in a contract dispute with the Arizona Coyotes, who have his draft rights.

But he's blocked all that out to serve a greater purpose.

Bleackley, a High River, Alberta native, announced Thursday he will donate $20 to the Canadian Red Cross for every goal the Rebels score in the upcoming Memorial Cup. The donations are to support those affected by the Fort McMurray fires in Alberta.

Bleackley said he will make the donation May 30 and challenged his 4,500-plus Twitter followers to donate too.

Tweet from @Bleacks9:

The Canadian Hockey League announced Thursday that it will donate $50,000-plus proceeds from the 50/50 raffle of the first three Memorial Cup games in Red Deer, with a minimum donation of $150,000, to the Red Cross.

Bleackley, who was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the first round (No. 23) of the 2014 NHL Draft, had 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 55 games with Red Deer this season. His rights were traded to the Coyotes on Feb. 29, along with Alex Tanguay and Kyle Wood, for Mikkel Boedker.

If he does not sign an entry-level contract with the Coyotes by June 1, Bleackley will re-enter the draft, and the Coyotes will receive a supplemental second-round pick for the 2016 draft, which takes place June 24-25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

"My agent has a close relationship with [Arizona general manager John Chayka], and they still have time to sign me," Bleackley told the Red Deer website Monday. "I'm not expecting anything."

First, Bleackley must overcome a wrist injury he sustained in March. His wrist tendons were cut by a skate blade during a win against the Edmonton Oil Kings, and he was expected to miss the remainder of the season. He began practicing last week and could be available for the Memorial Cup opener Friday between his Rebels and London of the Ontario Hockey League.

But even with Bleackley's return to the rink, Red Deer coach Brent Sutter does not believe his forward will return this weekend.

"He's been practicing the last two days, so we'll see how it goes, but it's not something I'm optimistic about," Sutter said Monday. "I'm still going off what the surgeon said who performed the operation."

Bleackley called himself "kind of doubtful" for the tournament, that is his focus, and the draft stuff will handle itself.

"My job, whether I get signed or go back into the draft or whatever happens, hasn't changed and won't change," Bleackley said. "I'll work hard every day and first and foremost get back from this injury, then train in the summer."

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