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Hockey Is For Everyone

Hockey Is For Everyone daily digest

Latest news, images from around NHL in February @NHLdotcom

Welcome to Hockey Is For Everyone month, a joint initiative between the NHL and NHL Players' Association.

The NHL has designated February as Hockey Is For Everyone month to reaffirm that the official policy of the sport is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands.

All 31 NHL teams will celebrate Hockey Is For Everyone month with unique programming, partnerships, ceremonies, observances and community activations.

Here is the latest Hockey Is For Everyone month news from around the League.


Feb. 24

Van Riemsdyk promotes You Can Play efforts

Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, now in his ninth NHL season, says players are now more aware of certain language they use in dressing rooms.

"Oh yeah," van Riemsdyk said. "I don't think anyone was necessarily intending to be malicious but it can be construed that way… there's been a growth aspect from when I came into the League until now."

The Maple Leafs will host "You Can Play Night" as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month on Saturday when they face the Boston Bruins at Air Canada Centre (7 p.m. ET; SN, NESN, NHL.TV). The You Can Play project is an organization co-founded in 2012 by Patrick Burke, then a scout with the Philadelphia Flyers, which promotes the safety and inclusion of all in sports including LGBTQ athletes. Van Riemsdyk, who played for the Flyers at the time, was eager to lend his support and has continued to serve to do, now as an ambassador with the Maple Leafs.

"It was about the way we were raised by our parents where we were always told to treat people the way you want to be treated," said van Riemsdyk. "It sounds simple but that's just the way you should live your life. It's a no brainer to be involved and align yourself with this initiative."

You Can Play staff and members of the Toronto Gay Hockey League will be guests at the game, which will include pre-game rainbow-colored ice lighting.

Van Riemsdyk said it is vital to continue emphasizing the importance of tolerance and inclusion of people of all races and sexual orientations. While he has noticed progress, he referenced the racist comments directed at Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly at the United Center in Chicago on Feb. 17 as an example that work still needs to be done.

"There's no reason not to be inclusive of everyone. The incident the other night in Chicago was very unfortunate. It goes to show you that initiatives like these are even more important than we may think," van Riemsdyk said. "I think we've made a lot of strides but there's obviously still mindsets that we need to hopefully reach."


Feb. 23

Hurricanes set to welcome inner-city youngsters

The Carolina Hurricanes will host the Capital City Crew as part of the NHL's Hockey Is For Everyone Month when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit PNC Arena on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; TVAS, FS-CR, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

The Capital City Crew program provides opportunities for inner-city youth ages 8-14 to play hockey through partnerships with the Hurricanes, the Wake County Boys & Girls Club and the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association.

Hurricanes defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Haydn Fleury surprised a group of Capital City Crew players during a recent practice at PNC Arena.

Video: Hockey Is For Everyone: Capital City Crew

"The one thing about hockey is it's not necessarily cheap," van Riemdyk told the Hurricanes website. "You have to buy the gear and ice time, so there's all that that goes into it.

"It's awesome they're able to get on the ice. It's awesome to see that more and more kids are getting the chance to play. … You want everyone to be able to have that opportunity to come in a locker room. There's a lot of fun to be had in there, and you want everyone to be able to experience that."


[RELATED: HIFE Home | Calendar | Ambassadors]


Feb. 22 

Oilers holding Hockey Is For Everyone night 

The Edmonton Oilers will hold their Hockey Is For Everyone night when they play the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT, NHL.TV). And no doubt, there will be some Pride Tape on hand. 

Tweet from @PrideTape: #DidYouKnow: the @EdmontonOilers were the very first team to ever use #PrideTape? Tonight, they take on the @Avalanche on their @YouCanPlayTeam Pride Night as part of the @NHL's #HockeyIsForEveryone month in support of diversity, equality, and inclusion in sport! ������������


Feb. 20 

Flyers holding Hockey Is For Everyone night 

The Philadelphia Flyers will host Hockey Is For Everyone night when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).

Among the fans in attendance will be members of the Flyers Youth Special Hockey team. The program provides an opportunity for people age 5 and up with developmental and learning disabilities to learn and participate in hockey.

Members of the team took part in a clinic and a scrimmage run by Flyers assistant coach Ian Laperriere on Monday.

Tweet from @FlyersAlumni: Flyers Alumni skated with Flyers Youth Special Hockey today ahead of Hockey is for Everyone Night at Wells Fargo Center tomorrow. Great time! 

Feb. 19 

Kings prospect uses pride tape 

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, a second-round pick (No. 41) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2017 NHL Draft, is getting into the spirit of Hockey Is For Everyone month.

Anderson-Dolan, 18, a forward for Spokane of the Western Hockey League,and his teammates used pride tape on their sticks during warmups for their game against Tri-City on Saturday. 

Anderson-Dolan and his brother, Dorian, were raised by two mothers, Fran and Nancy. Fran is Jaret's biological mother, and Nancy is Dorian's.

"With my family background and having two moms, it kind of meant a lot to me and it meant a lot to my mom's and the rest of my family," Anderson-Dolan told the Spokane website after the 5-1 victory. "When I told them we were doing Pride Night again, my mom was in tears because it means a lot to her, and Nancy as well that I'm getting my voice out there and showing my support and how proud I am of them.

"I feel I can really make an impact if I keep doing what I'm doing and getting the voice out there."

The Chiefs skated with the rainbow-colored tape on their sticks last season after noticing how Anderson-Dolan taped his stick and the reasoning behind his decision.

"He started taping it right before the game last year and everyone saw that and that's when everyone else wanted to do it," said Spokane forward Kailer Yamamoto (Edmonton Oilers). "We're a family in that locker room, so if one guy is doing it, we all do it."



Feb. 16 

Reaves scores one for O'Ree 

Ryan Reaves is a man of his word. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins foward told Willie O'Ree, the first black player in NHL history and the NHL's Hockey Is For Everyone Diversity Ambassador, that he would score a goal for him when they met on Thursday. He did just that in the Penguins' 3-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings. 

Here's the story of Reaves delivering on his promise. 


Sled trophy gets to Hall of Fame  

The J.J. O'Connor Courage Trophy, which was awarded to the winner of the USA Sled Hockey Classic in November, made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in time for Hockey Is For Everyone month. Staff Writer Tom Gulitti covered the Classic in November. 


Feb. 15

Toews shows off his Pride Tape 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had the Pride Tape working during warmups at United Center on Thursday. 

Tweet from @NHLBlackhawks: The Captain shows off his #PrideTape! #HockeyIsForEveryone


Greene proud to represent Devils

New Jersey Devils captain Andy Greene remembers the courage and Brendan Burke showed when he came out as gay while attending Miami University in November 2009.

"I had already left Miami University when Brendan was there, but I had so many friends from the school contact me to tell me how much of an inspiration Brendan was," Greene said.

Greene, a two-time captain at Miami (2004-06), will do whatever it takes to stand up in the fight against homophobia in sports as the Devils Hockey Is For Everyone team ambassador.

Burke, the son of longtime Calgary Flames President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke and brother of Patrick Burke, NHL's Senior Director of Player Safety, served as a student manager for the men's ice hockey team at Miami. He died in an automobile accident on Feb. 5, 2010. Part of his legacy has been the You Can Play project, which promotes inclusion for all in hockey.

"I love this game more than anything and it's given me everything I have," Greene said. "We had a clinic at Prudential Center (on Feb. 2) that had special needs kids and kids with disabilities off all different age levels and skill levels. It's one way for them to be able to go out there and not think about their disability or whatever they might be going through. It's just going out there, having fun, smiling, getting exercise and being a part of a team."

Linda Greene, Andy's mother, is proud that her son is playing a big role for a major cause.

"Andy was connected with Brendan Burke through Miami, and he knows inclusion is very important," Linda Greene said. "I think especially if you're the captain of a team; you have to include everybody and everybody has the right to play."

Tweet from @NHL: Why is #HockeyIsForEveryone important to you, Andy Greene?


Penguins have special guest

Willie O'Ree, the first black player in NHL history and the League's Diversity Ambassador for Hockey Is For Everyone month, visited the Pittsburgh Penguins during their morning skate Thursday.

"Willie is a testament to perseverance. He might have faced more adversity than any of us," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I think he's a great example of dedication. He's been a great ambassador to the sport."

The Penguins play the Los Angeles Kings at PPG Paints Arena (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNP, TVAS, ATTSN-PT, FS-W, NHL.TV).

Tweet from @penguins: It was an honor to have you at morning skate, Willie O'Ree!Coach Sullivan: ���Willie is a testament to perseverance. He might have faced more adversity than any of us. I think he���s a great example of dedication. He���s been a great ambassador to the sport.���#HockeyIsForEveryone

Get your Vegas T-shirt

The Vegas Golden Knights will hold their Hockey Is For Everyone night Thursday when they play the Edmonton OIlers at T-Mobile Arena (10 p.m. ET; SN1, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV). 

To help celebrate the night, forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is reminding fans to pick up their Hockey Is For Everyone T-shirt at the game.

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: If you���re coming to tomorrow night���s game, make sure to pick up a ���You Can Play��� shirt on the main concourse


Feb. 12 

Special night in Las Vegas 

The Vegas Golden Knights had a very special guest at T-Mobile Arena to help them celebrate Hockey Is For Everyone night Sunday. 

Here is the story on Hailey Dawson. 

Video: Hailey Dawson drops puck with robotic hand for HIFE


Greenway making history 

Minnesota Wild prospect Jordan Greenway is making history at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. Staff Writer Amalie Benjamin has the story. 


Feb. 11

Holtby stepping up as Capitals ambassador 

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby is embracing his role as Hockey Is For Everyone team ambassador. 

"Sports is the area that we can do the most good with as hockey players," Holtby said. "I think that's where our audience is and that's the type of game we want to be. We want to be inclusive. We want to have people judged on their talent and their morals, how they treat people, instead of the color of their skin or where they were raised or anything like that. It's something we take pride in in our sport and try to instill in everyone that watches."

Here is the story on Holtby. 


Feb. 10

Capitals host United Arab Emirates women's team 

The United Arab Emirates women's national team had another day it will never forget at Capital One Arena on Friday.

First, the team played an inter-squad game with members of the Washington Pride of the Junior Women's Hockey League. Then the entire team was on the ice for a ceremonial puck drop prior to the Washington Capitals' 4-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets as part of the Capitals' Hockey Is For Everyone month women's theme night.

The sellout crowd of 18,506 stood and cheered while UAE captain Fatima Al Qubaisi dropped the puck for the face-off between Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno.

Video: CBJ@WSH: UAE Women's Team drops puck on HIFE night

"I couldn't really believe the amount of support from the people," UAE forward Khalood Shugaa said. "It was beautiful hearing them cheering not only for their own teams or for us. They were cheering for the sport of ice hockey. So that is just great. It felt like we're all connected because of one thing."

Last February, UAE forward Fatima Al Ali visited the Capitals and dropped the puck for a ceremonial face-off between Ovechkin and Detroit Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg before snapping a selfie with the two players. Al Ali came back this year and brought the rest of her team with her.

On Thursday, the UAE team watched the Capitals practice and held their own practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

"I'm glad we had this opportunity thanks to Fatima and now we're all here because of her," forward Latifa Al Sowaidi said. "It's just an unforgettable moment."

The Columbus Blue Jackets will host Hockey Is For Everyone night against the New Jersey Devils at Nationwide Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-O, MSG+, NHL.TV).

Members of the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus will accompany Blue Jackets anthem singer Leo Walsh to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner." Among the programs in the spotlight during the game will be Ohio Sled Hockey, Special Hockey (players with developmental disabilities), the Columbus Ohio Gay Lesbian Ally Hockey Association and the Columbus Ice Hockey Club (Columbus Recreation & Parks program).

Tweet from @BlueJacketsNHL: Saturday is #HockeyIsForEveryone night for #CBJ!


Feb. 9

Browne in spotlight on Panthers Pride Night

Harrison Browne, hockey's first transgender professional player, will drop the ceremonial first puck to highlight Hockey Is For Everyone night when the Florida Panthers host the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-W, NHL.TV).

Browne, a special ambassador during Hockey Is For Everyone Month, also was featured as part of the New Jersey Devils' Pride Night on Feb. 1.

The Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida will perform the national anthem prior to the game, and fans will receive an exclusive Pride Night Panthers-themed gift.

Tweet from @YouCanPlayTeam: Hear the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida and watch some exciting hockey at Friday's @FlaPanthers #PrideNight game. Get your tickets today: #HockeyIsForEveryone #YouCanPlay #FlaPanthers @NHL @NHLPA

The Panthers are one of five NHL teams hosting its Hockey Is For Everyone Night on Friday, joining the Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals.

Representatives of various LGBTQ organizations will be on hand when the Hurricanes host the Vancouver Canucks at PNC Arena (7:30 p.m. ET; FS-CR, SNP, NHL.TV). There also will be a silent auction to benefit the You Can Play Project.

Tweet from @NHLCanes: As the #Canes #HockeyIsForEveryone Ambassador, @TvanRiemsdyk6 is helping to spearhead the team's initiatives throughout February.

Rainbow colors will adorn the outside of Madison Square Garden when the Rangers host the Calgary Flames (7 p.m. ET; MSG, SNW, NHL.TV). Sticks used during warm-up, featuring rainbow Pride Tape, will be auctioned, with all proceeds benefiting the You Can Play Project.

Forward Mats Zuccarello relishes his role as the Rangers' Hockey Is For Everyone ambassador.

The entire United Arab Emirates women's hockey team will take part in a ceremonial puck drop prior to the Capitals hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets at Capital One Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, FS-O, NHL.TV). 

The UAE team was scheduled to scrimmage the Washington Pride of the Junior Women's Hockey League at Capital One Arena earlier Friday.

On Thursday, the Capitals hosted forward Fatima Al Ali and her UAE teammates at practice.

Tweet from @Capitals: The UAE Women���s National Hockey Team is on the ice with Bondra, Stephenson and Bowey. #HockeyIsForEveryone 

Feb. 8

Big night on tap for Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers will celebrate Hockey Is For Everyone month with You Can Play Project night when they play the Montreal Canadiens at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).

"That's what we're going for, inclusion of everyone in hockey," forward Wayne Simmonds said. "Around the world, eyes are open and you can't be one-track minded anymore. That's the whole key to this, everyone love everybody. It's not about picking sides or not all about black people or all about white people. It's about bringing everyone together, making things work."

A number of the players will use rainbow-colored Pride Tape on their sticks, which then will be auctioned off, with proceeds benefiting You Can Play Project, which is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux, the Flyers' HIFE ambassador, will host several young fans from Project HOME, a Philadelphia-based non-profit with a mission of empowering families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, in his suite during the game.

"[Hockey Is For Everyone] is a good cause and you can see a lot of people really get involved with it," Giroux said. "It's good for the game."


Dumba, Coyle help Wild celebrate diversity, community

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and forward Charlie Coyle spoke about their passion for creating a safe, positive and inclusive environment for hockey, with the Wild set to host Hockey Is For Everyone night against the Arizona Coyotes at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; FS-N, FS-A, NHL.TV).

"When I'm working with the kids or groups around the cities, underprivileged or just different backgrounds or ethnicities, it's awesome to get them involved in hockey," Dumba said.

Said Coyle: "Obviously we want to keep spreading the game and make sure everyone feels comfortable." 

Tweet from @mnwild: "When I'm working with the kids or groups around the cities, underprivileged or just different backgrounds, it's awesome to get them involved in hockey." ��� @Matt_Dumba on #HockeyIsForEveryone

Among the groups being recognized by the Wild Thursday are the Minnesota Warriors, which assists veterans with reintegration into civilian life following their military service; DinoMights hockey, which uses the game to promote education and support to at-risk Twin Cities youth; Minnesota Sled Hockey; the Hendrickson Foundation, which supports various branches of Minnesota Disabled Hockey; the Minnesota Whitecaps, a professional team that allows women to play competitively following their collegiate careers; Minnesota Special Hockey; and the Herb Brooks Foundation Rink Rats, named after the former NHL and 1980 U.S. Olympic coach.

Tweet from @mnwild: Tomorrow is our #HockeyIsForEveryone night. For more info on this very important initiative ���


Feb. 7

Giroux embraces role as Flyers HIFE ambassador

Forward Claude Giroux understands there's more to being captain of the Philadelphia Flyers than having a C stitched on the front of his jersey. And the leadership he provides reaches beyond the walls of the locker room.

It's why Giroux, for the second straight year, is the Flyers' ambassador for Hockey Is For Everyone month. As part of the initiative, the Flyers will host You Can Play Night against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).

Among other charitable endeavors, Giroux has been a supporter of the You Can Play Project since its inception, appearing in the group's initial 2012 public service announcement along with other NHL players, including goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and forward Rick Nash of the New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith and Nashville Predators forward Scott Hartnell.

The You Can Play project is dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all who participate in sports, including LGBTQ athletes, coaches and fans.

In his personal suite at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, Giroux will host several young fans from Project HOME, a Philadelphia-based non-profit with a mission of empowering families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

"I've been here for a while now," Giroux said. "You just try to get involved with the community, and with the hockey community also. You just try to get involved. … [Hockey Is For Everyone] is a good cause and you can see a lot of people really get involved with it. It's good for the game."

Giroux also be one of the players using Pride Tape on his stick, and the sticks will be auctioned off by Flyers Charities, with proceeds benefitting the You Can Play Project.

Tweet from @NHLFlyers: We are proud to partner with @YouCanPlayTeam to host You Can Play Night on 2/8 vs. MTLMore details:


Feb. 6

Bid on Ekblad's stick 

To help celebrate Pride Night on Tuesday, several members of the Florida Panthers will have rainbow-colored Pride Tape on their sticks during warmups. 

The Panthers are auctioning off the stick defenseman Aaron Ekblad will use during warmups. Here's how you can get in on the bidding. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Help us support #HockeyIsForEveryone and the #FlaPanthers Foundation. Click below to bid on @Ekblad5FLA's warm-up used stick.��


Blues, Sabres to hold Pride Night

The St. Louis Blues are holding Pride Night when they play the Minnesota Wild at Scottrade Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NHL.TV). They will welcome the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis, a diverse choir group made up of black, white, gay, straight, cisgender, transgender, Christian, agnostic, Jewish and more to perform the national anthem.

The Blues will have a variety of rainbow-colored items for sale on the Scottrade Center concourse. Profits from rainbow flags being sold will benefit Pride STL and their annual pride fest. Rainbow beads will also be sold to benefit Pride STL and You Can Play, an organization that aims rid homophobia in athletics.

Proud Larry will be playing rock songs from LGBTQ artists before and during the game. USA Hockey's Makenna Webster will be on hand in the color guard, and members of Blues Special Hockey, Blues Blind Hockey and Inner City Street Hockey will make appearances.

Goaltender Carter Hutton, the Blues' ambassador for Hockey Is For Everyone month, said he's proud of how far the game has grown and the message it's sending.

"It's such a unique sport where we want to have it open for everybody and I think the culture we've created here in the NHL and hockey growing up is a very family-friendly oriented environment, and it's something that you get a chance to see everyone enjoy the game," Hutton said. "It's such an awesome game and everyone should have the right to play and be part of it."

The Buffalo Sabres also are hosting their Hockey Is For Everyone night Tuesday. 

Ryan O'Reilly is the Sabres' Hockey Is For Everyone team ambassador and has a good reason why. 

Here are the details on the Sabres' night.  

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: We're hosting #HockeyIsForEveryone Night tomorrow!Full details on what's planned ��


Feb. 5

Panthers to hold Pride Night

The Florida Panthers will hold their third-annual Pride Night on Feb. 9. 

In addition to having several players sport rainbow-colored Pride Tape as a way of honoring the LGBTQ community, the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida will start the evening by singing the National Anthem. 

The Panthers will also be giving away a special Pride Night T-shirt. 

Tweet from @FlaPanthers: Here's an exclusive look at the next t-shirt we'll be giving away for Free Shirt Friday & #FlaPanthers Pride Night on Feb. 9! ��



Feb. 4

Nurse hosts Right To Play group at Oilers Skills Competition

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse hosted a group from Right To Play Canada at the 2018 Oilers Skills Competition at Rogers Place on Saturday.

Nurse joined Right To Play as an Athlete Ambassador in 2016. Right To Play is a global organization that uses the transformative power of play to educate and empower children facing adversity and is involved with more than 20 countries worldwide.

Tweet from @Oil_Foundation: As part of this month's #HockeyIsForEveryone initiative, #Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse hosted a group from @RightToPlayCAN at today's #OilersSkills Competition!

Capitals to honor Special Hockey

The Washington Capitals will pay tribute to members of the special hockey community throughout their game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Capital One Arena on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV).



Feb. 3

Islanders host Pride Night

The New York Islanders take their turn in the spotlight for Hockey Is For Everyone Month when they host Pride Night against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Barclays Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-O, NHL.TV).

The game will begin with a ceremonial puck drop featuring You Can Play ambassador Sandra Velasquez, the founder of Hockey Fights Hate, which conducts recreational hockey scrimmages to raise funds for civil rights and advocacy groups throughout the U.S.

Forward Casey Cizikas is the Islanders' Hockey is for Everyone ambassador for a second straight season, and is a huge advocate for the NHL initiative.

"We welcome everybody, no matter what," Cizikas said. "I think that's the great thing about hockey and the great thing about the people in it. I don't think you ever talk to anybody that said a hockey player hasn't been polite or a hockey player hasn't been nice to them or their kids. I think that's just the way we were kind of raised."

Islanders players will use rainbow-colored Pride Tape on their sticks during warmup, and an auction for a game-used stick will be held on the Barclays Center concourse, with proceeds going to LBGTQ charities.

Tweet from @NYIslanders: Throughout the month of February the #NHL celebrates #HockeyIsForEveryone month.Join us Saturday as the #Isles host the Blue Jackets on Pride Night. A portion of each ticket sold goes to @YouCanPlayTeam & includes an Isles Pride Night Scarf:


Capitals host Fort Dupont Cannons

The Washington Capitals hosted the Fort Dupont Cannons Ice Hockey Club for a hockey clinic Saturday. Capitals defensemen Madison Bowey and Brooks Orpik and forward Devante Smith-Pelly joined about 50 Fort Dupont players and their coaches on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex to assist with drills.

The Capitals also presented the Cannons with a donation of $22,000 from Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

"As with any kid, it's a thrill to be able to skate with an NHL player," Cannons coach Robert Primus said. "And to have the support of the Washington Capitals, it's beyond words. It validates why we are here, what we're doing. It shows the support that the Capitals have for programs like Fort Dupont, for Hockey is for Everyone, and it reaffirms that hockey is for everyone and it is inclusive and it should be inclusive and we're not doing it on our own."

Founded in 1977 by coach Neal Henderson, the Cannons are the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America. They are based at Ford Dupont Ice Arena, the only full-size indoor ice arena in Washington.



Feb. 2

Bergeron hosts blind students at Bruins game

Center Patrice Bergeron hosted a group of students from Perkins School for the Blind in his "Patrice's Pals" initiative during the Boston Bruins' game against the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden on Thursday as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month.

"I think it means a lot," Bergeron said. "It's about acceptance and equality, and I think you need more of that now. I think it's a great initiative from the League. I think it's great that we're moving in that direction. It's also a lot of hate in the world and I feel like spreading some love and showing that everyone is accepted and it's about inclusion. I think it's awesome."

The students listened to the radio broadcast of the game on headsets and were able to experience the arena and the crowd. After the Bruins' 3-1 victory, the students were able to feel different pieces of equipment, including a jersey, helmet, stick, gloves and goaltender Tuukka Rask's blocker and gloves.

The students then were able to ask questions and take pictures with and get autographs from Bergeron, who hosts children at every Bruins home game.

"It's important; it's a great, great thing that [the NHL] is doing, and it's fun," Bergeron said. "I think it's a great game. Sometimes it's a way for people to get together. It reaches a lot of different groups of people."

The Bruins had their Hockey Is For Everyone Night during the game against the Blues, which included the national anthem sung by 16-year-old Nicole Talbot, a transgender teen who has been an advocate for transgender equality in Massachusetts and across the country.

The team had an Honor Guard comprised of members of OUTVETS, a charitable organization dedicated to honoring the contributions and sacrifices of LGBTQ veterans, service members and their families. The six-member Hockey Is For Everyone starting lineup was made up of a diverse group of hockey players, including Jay Earley, who is hearing-impaired; Casey Buccigross, a member of a local U10 girls team who has juvenile diabetes; Jayden Gomes, who plays for SCORE Boston, which lets inner-city kids take part in hockey; Paul LaVenture, a 71-year-old member of the Central Mass Rusty Blades; Bruce Li, who is originally from Shanghai; and Dan Santos, a member of the Northeast Passage Sled Hockey Team and the U.S. Development Sled Hockey Team.


Flames conduct on-ice clinic for blind and visually impaired players

The Calgary Flames hosted 30 individuals who are legally blind or visually impaired at an on-ice session at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

"It was amazing just to see how good they were and how much fun they were having," Flames defenseman Dougie Hamilton said. "It's one of those things where you wouldn't expect a blind person to be able to play hockey, and they were really good.

"It was awesome just to be out there with them and how passionate they were, just being able to learn a different side of hockey. The puck's a lot bigger and it makes a lot more noise, just to see how well they communicate, because that's how they have to get around the ice. You learn a lot."

The participants, from the Alberta Sports and Recreation Association for the Blind (ASRAB) and Canadian Blind Hockey, learned to skate and play blind hockey alongside Hamilton, forward Matthew Tkachuk and former Flames great Lanny McDonald.

 ASRAB supports Albertans who are blind or visually impaired to live physically active lives and participate in sports.  

"It's definitely a challenge and you get a little glimpse of what they go through on a daily basis, and for them to get out there and love hockey so much and follow it and be big fans of us, it was fun for us," Tkachuk said. "We need to get it out there and make sure people know that it's not just a select few people that can play hockey, that it is really just for everyone," Tkachuk said. "As an organization and with the Flames Foundation, we do a really good job of that."

Tweet from @NHLFlames: Visually impaired hockey athletes are having a blast on the ice with #Flames players and alumni! #HockeyIsForEveryone



Feb. 1

Raanta to wear special mask for Coyotes

Goalie Antti Raanta will wear a special Hockey Is For Everyone mask on Thursday for the Arizona Coyotes' game against the Dallas Stars (9 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-SW, NHL.TV).

The mask, designed by David Gunnarsson, features the words "Hockey Is For Everyone" on one side and "You Can Play" on the other.

"I'm looking forward to wearing this mask on such a special night," Raanta said. "I'm very proud to support the Hockey Is For Everyone initiative and the You Can Play project. They are both very important causes."

Here are the full details.  

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tomorrow @ARaanta31 will wear a special #HockeyIsForEveryone mask. You can bid on his mask now:


Bruins hosting Hockey Is For Everyone Night

The Boston Bruins will host their Hockey Is For Everyone Night on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues (7 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, TVA Sports, NESN-N, FS-MW, NHL.TV).

Here are the full details of what Bruins have plannned. 

Tweet from @NHLBruins: Bruins to Host Hockey is for Everyone Night Tonight:


Devils holding second annual Pride Night

The New Jersey Devils will commence the opening day of Hockey Is For Everyone month by holding their second annual Pride Night at Prudential Center on Thursday.

"Hockey Is For Everyone is a great initiative," Devils HIFE ambassador Andy Greene said. "It's important that there's inclusion for everyone, no matter their race or sexual orientation. It just comes down to whether you're a good human being. That's the most important thing."

Before the Devils play the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NBCSP, NHL.TV), there will be a Newark Gay Pride networking event in the Primepoint Lounge at Prudential Center featuring a question-and-answer session with forward Harrison Browne, the first openly transgender person in professional hockey. Browne plays for the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women's Hockey League.

Max DeFrancesco, a member of the LGBTQ community, will sing the national anthem. The color guard will be comprised of representatives from Newark Pride. Devils players will wrap their sticks with Pride Tape, and each stick will be auctioned to benefit You Can Play Project after the game.

On Friday, the Devils will conduct a Hockey Is For Everyone Clinic presented by RWJBarnabas Health at Prudential Center. The clinic, which begins at 5:30 p.m. ET, will feature Devils alumni and a guest appearance from former NHL player and NHL Diversity Ambassador Willie O'Ree.

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