MARQUETTE, Mich. -- Brad May was on the ice at Lakeview Arena for several youth hockey clinics Sunday in Marquette, Michigan, the town that was named Kraft Hockeyville USA 2016 winner with the arena receiving $150,000 in upgrades.
One session included kids trying hockey for the first time, something the retired NHL forward remembers doing as well.
"It's simple for me," May said. "No. 1 it's a celebration of hockey. Kraft Hockeyville has an amazing relationship with the NHL. But for me to get back on the ice, and put the skates on...it takes you back to when you were a kid. I watched these little children learning how to skate and it was kind of fun to give them a few tips. I'm sure it wasn't the best coaching session but it was certainly a lot of fun to spend and give back to the game that was so good to all of us."
Lakeview Arena will host a nationally televised preseason game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN).
"There's no doubt that these relationships these sponsors have with the NHL are great," May said. "It takes big companies with a lot of reach to get to this point. A lot of manpower and hours to get going and organize an event like this, but absolutely it's a celebration of hockey."
After the clinics, May did an autograph signing at Walmart before attending the Fun Fair at Superior Dome on the campus of Northern Michigan University.
"Unfortunately you can't do [Kraft Hockeyville] in every town or city, but these events raise awareness," May said. "You just look around and see the excitement of everybody here in Marquette."
May, who works as a studio analyst for the Buffalo Sabres, played for seven teams in 20 NHL seasons and retired after playing 40 games for the Detroit Red Wings in 2009-10. Even though May's time in Michigan was short, he knows how important hockey is to the state.
"I loved Detroit," May said. "I loved playing there. I didn't play there very long but everyone up here in the [Upper Peninsula] cares about hockey. Really the No. 1 team is the Detroit Red Wings and it's just cool that I kind of have a history, as small as it is, there. It's fun. I ran into some people I've met before but also met some new people. It's amazing they love hockey here."