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Coyne Schofield among four women to receive $25,000 donation from NHL

Fast, Johnston, Decker also honored, believe All-Star Weekend will open 'an amazing amount of doors'

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Kendall Coyne Schofield's eyes welled up. Renata Fast, Rebecca Johnston and Brianna Decker were nearly speechless. The four women's hockey players -- Coyne Schofield and Decker from the U.S. Women's National Team; Fast and Johnston from Canada's Women's National Team -- had just been told in front of the crowd at SAP Center that the NHL would donate $25,000 in each of their names to charities or hockey programs of their choice. 

The announcement came at the intermission of the second game, between the Atlantic Division and Metropolitan Division, at the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Saturday. The four women knew only that they were being honored, that they would wave to the crowd. Instead, it was announced that the NHL would make the donation. 

The crowd rose in a standing ovation and turned to face the women, who were in the stands and stunned by the news. 


[RELATED: Coyne Schofield shines in fastest skater at All-Star Skills | All-Star Game coverage]


They turned to each other as Johnston said, "Wait, did we hear that right?"

It was the culmination of a weekend that had seen the women break barriers, earn exposure, and bring attention to both women's hockey as a whole and the two national team programs, amidst the festivities of the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend. 

"It went from a casual wave, to an awesome reception from San Jose, to getting $25,000 to a charity of our choice from the NHL," Coyne Schofield said. "My emotion got the best of me and I was just overjoyed."

She wasn't alone.

"I feel like we're all in shock," Decker said. "Pretty special moment I think for us. We are all about growing the game and to be able to help a charity at some point with the amount of money the NHL gave us, that's pretty important to us. 

"We're going to have to figure out what we want to do and who we want to give it to, but regardless, it's going to benefit our sport and benefit the community that we decide to do that with."

In addition to the donations, Decker said that the NHL had made a "personal gift" to each of them, adding that it was something they were "obviously thrilled about. It was very unexpected. But couldn't be more thankful to them." 

Plus, adidas signed all four players to endorsement deals on Saturday, announcing the signing during the All-Star Game.

Video: MET@CEN: USA, Canada women's players recognized

All four players were invited to the All-Star Game to demonstrate events at the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills. On Thursday, as they were practicing, Coyne Schofield recorded a 14.266 in the Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater. Given that the NHL was down a participant - Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon had a bruised left foot - NHL staff hatched a plan to add Coyne Schofield to the competition. 

She captured the event and the crowd, even as it was won for the third consecutive season by Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid, with a time of 14.346, less than a second off McDavid's pace of 13.378. 

The moment went viral. 

Decker had an equally impressive showing as she demonstrated the Enterprise NHL Premier Passer, with an unofficial time that was later determined to be just seconds off the winning time of 1:09.088 recorded by Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl.

"Just to be invited and to take part in this weekend is a huge honor for all of us," Fast said. "The NHL has treated us so well. We're so fortunate. I think it's really special that we're able to continue to give back with the help of the NHL."

Soon after the announcement, the players had yet to decide which charities or hockey programs their donations would go to, whether they would go to four different places or whether they would pool their donations. 

It was hard to even contemplate. The weekend had been such a whirlwind. 

"I think we're at a loss for words," Johnston said. "I'm still shocked with everything that's going on."

Video: Fastest Skater: Coyne Schofield sets the pace

Ultimately, the players were most excited about the exposure, about the attention that was trained on their sport, on women's hockey, on the inroads made with NHL fans, on the platform they see in the future. That was what will resonate, they believe, far after this weekend.

"I think it just shows that there's support behind us," Fast said. "That the future is bright. They're obviously making an effort to show that they want to involve the women's game within the NHL. It's very positive for the future of women's hockey."

The rest was a bonus.

"For us to be here, we didn't expect anything," Johnston said. "Just to be on the ice with them was a dream come true for us. To be able to showcase women's hockey and try to grow the game was our main goal."

Nearly half an hour after the announcement, Coyne Schofield was still emotional about everything that had happened. 

"Helping people is something that means so much to me," she said. "I just know how many people that's going to help. It's amazing what the NHL's done this entire week.

"It's opened an amazing amount of doors. It shows the sky's the limit. The NHL broke a barrier last night by having me compete in the skills competition. We're seeing it go viral today. The effects it's going to have in the future is just incredible. I'm excited to see what the future brings."

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