TORONTO - They're doing it in honour of their parents, deceased friends and former hockey coaches. But above all, NHL players are choosing to give back in support of the international humanitarian organization Right To Play.
Alex Ovechkin, Zdeno Chara, Joe Thornton and Daniel Alfredsson are among a group of 28 NHL players who will make donations to the charity based on the numbers of minutes they play in one of their games this weekend.
Each will make their donation on behalf of a role model.
Chara travelled to Mozambique last summer and saw first-hand some of the work that Right To Play is doing with children in that country.
"I was inspired by their commitment and extremely impressed by the ability of just a few coaches to create such happiness and amazing learning opportunities for literally hundreds of children," he said. "My father was a mentor for me and that is why I am honouring him with my donation.
"I know it is for an outstanding cause."
Chara is one of the organization's biggest supporters. He wore a yellow tuque featuring Right To Play's logo during the skills competition at the all-star game in Montreal and donated money he earned for winning the hardest shot competition.
In all, players from 25 different NHL teams will make donations this weekend. That list includes Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators, Robyn Regehr of the Calgary Flames, Ethan Moreau of the Edmonton Oilers, Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens, Dominic Moore of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks.
Right To Play runs sport and play programs in 23 countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and South America. The organization estimates that it reaches 600,000 children with programs every week.