SUNRISE, Fla. - Keith Yandle is getting a head start on Hockey Fights Cancer.
Looking for a unique way to raise breast cancer awareness, Yandle has been using a bright rose-gold stick, crafted specially for the defenseman by CCM, in every game since the Florida Panthers visited Pittsburgh on Oct. 14.
"CCM and myself wanted to do something for breast cancer awareness," said Yandle, who is in his second season with the Panthers. "I just kind of wanted to show my support and do anything I can to help raise awareness. It's an honor for me to use it. They did a great job with this stick, making it nice."
The 19th annual Hockey Fights Cancer campaign, a joint initiative between the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), will begin Wednesday. Since 1998, Hockey Fights Cancer has raised more than $18 million, which has been used to raise awareness for national and local organizations involved in cancer care and research.
In addition to numerous outreach programs and fundraisers, teams around the league traditionally show their support for Hockey Fights Cancer by showcasing the campaign's purple logo on their helmets, jerseys and throughout their arenas.
"Everyone knows someone," Yandle said. "I've had aunts with breast cancer, family friends, a kid I grew up with, one of my wife's best friends, lots of people. It's just one of those things where everyone knows somebody. For me to be able to help out and do my part, I really take pride in it."
With the shimmer of his rose-gold stick catching the attention of both teammates and opponents, Yandle said that he's already had several of conversations with players on and off the ice about why he inevitably made the decision carry a little more color in his equipment bag.
"A lot of guys don't really know what it is or why I'm using it," he said. "I've got to explain it a little bit. When I tell them what it's for, they support it."
As for the future of the eye-catching sticks, Yandle said that he doesn't have a hard end date for using them, but did mention that that CCM had created a finite amount. If any do survive being snapped, it's possible that they could end up for auction, with the profits also going towards raising cancer awareness.
"I'm sure we could do something," Yandle said. "It's one step at a time. We haven't looked that far ahead. I'm sure we'll do something. I know next month is hockey fights cancer, so maybe they'll make a purple one for that."
The Panthers will host their Hockey Fights Cancer Night at the BB&T Center on Saturday, Nov. 4, when the New York Rangers make their first visit to Sunrise of the 2017-18 season.