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Gaustad Brings a Charitable Tradition From Buffalo to Nashville

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators
Paul Gaustad hasn’t been in Nashville for long, but he’s already trying to make a difference in the local community. For the final three Predators regular season home games, Gaustad—nicknamed “Goose”—will be offering autographed “The Goose Is Loose” hats for sale through the Predators Foundation, with all proceeds benefiting the Nashville Pediatric Research Fund at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Gaustad, who came to the Predators from the Buffalo Sabres in a Feb. 27 trade, initially had the hats created as part of a charitable endeavor he was involved in as a Sabre.

“I was the spokesperson for Camp Good Days in Buffalo, N.Y.,” says the personable Gaustad. “I took over when [former Buffalo center] Danny Briere left. It was a pretty important charity group for Danny. They asked me to come along and I did. I know Danny did hats when he was there—the Briere Bunch hats—and they actually sold some in Philly [after Briere signed with the Flyers in 2007]. So we kind of mimicked that.”

Team Tootoo Hats Also Available
Hats sporting the logo of Team Tootoo, a charity foundation started by Predators forward Jordin Tootoo, will also be for sale at the Predators Foundation Community Corner at the Predators’ final three regular season home games. The hats are not autographed and sell for $15.

Tootoo established the Team Tootoo Fund to help support nonprofit organizations addressing clauses closest to him—primarily suicide awareness and prevention as well as children and teens in need.
--Doug Brumley,
The hats, which sell for $25 at the Predators Foundation Community Corner on the arena’s main concourse outside sections 105/106, feature the saying “The Goose Is Loose,” with Gaustad’s jersey number, 28, embedded inside the O’s in “Goose.” The similarity between the team colors of Buffalo and Nashville made the decision to sell the hats in Gaustad’s new city even easier.

“We’ve been doing it for two or three years now,” he says, “and we had some extras, same colors, so it works out perfectly. And Camp Good Days was good enough to donate the rest of the hats to help the charities out here.”

Gaustad was a fan-favorite in Buffalo, so it’s no wonder that he was asked to be a spokesman for Camp Good Days. When he talks about the charity, his level of personal investment in it is clear.

“It’s an organization to help kids with illness kind of get away from their regular lives of treatments and hospitals,” he says. “It’s a good group I’ve been involved with for six or seven-plus years. It’s been special.

“I’m still in touch with some of the families that I’ve met and the kids. It’s a bittersweet thing for me because kids you do get close with, some of them do pass away. Last year was a tough year for Camp Good Days. We lost a lot of kids. But it always puts things in perspective. I know a lot of guys say that, but it does. It helps put things in perspective. [They are] a lot of great people and they’re fighting through a lot.”

Of course the business side of hockey can quickly disrupt those ties—or at least stretch them over hundreds of miles. And given the timing of Gaustad’s trade deadline transfer, the schedule can make it hard for a player to get his own living quarters sorted out, much less find a way to make a difference in his new community.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind for me trying to get settled here,” says the 6-foot-5 native of Fargo, N.D. “Especially with us going on the Western swing there. [Selling these hats lets me] kind of find my way in and help out.”

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