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NHL and Rangers Celebrate xczaHockey is For Everyonexcza Month

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

In celebration of the National Hockey League's month-long "Hockey is for Everyone" program, the League and the New York Rangers are pleased to announce that they will co-host an NHL STREET grassroots youth clinic at the Vanderbilt YMCA on Wednesday, February 18. The event, which will begin at 3:00 PM ET, will feature New York Rangers forwards Jamie Lundmark and Jed Ortmeyer instructing 40 kids between the ages of eight and 12 in mini-street hockey skills clinics.

"It is gratifying to see the tremendous growth of street hockey in New York City over the last nine years since the inception of the Street Rangers," said Rangers President, General Manager and Head Coach Glen Sather. "In order for us to grow this great sport of ours, it is essential that kids be able to get out and play the game. We are thrilled to be able to make hockey more accessible at the youth level through the resources of NHL STREET."

Entering its 11th year of programming, NHL STREET has been the cornerstone of League's grassroots efforts over the last decade. In that time period, more than 1 million youth have been exposed to street hockey, including substantial increases among girls and multi-cultural participants. Participation among girls has increased 700%, growing from 3% to 24%, and multicultural participation is up 1,766% to 56% from 3%. In 2003-04, NHL STREET will reach approximately 250,000 youngsters in 1,600 schools and community centers across 55 North American NHL and non-NHL markets.

"We are excited to be co-hosting an NHL STREET event with the New York Rangers as we both consider street hockey a great introduction and first step towards playing ice hockey," said Alysse Soll, vice president, NHL fan development. "Moreover, in celebration of the NHL's 'Hockey is for Everyone' month, we are pleased to see that the common bond of hockey has brought young people from different backgrounds together over the last decade.

NHL STREET is the League-wide North American street hockey program that introduces the game of hockey to hundreds of thousands of boys and girls annually. Started in 1994, the program's mission is to make hockey more accessible to more young people, as well as provide local communities with a turn-key sports program that promotes education, sportsmanship and fitness through participation in hockey. Participating youth recreation centers and schools receive NHL licensed Franklin Street equipment, program training manuals, premiums and an affiliation with their local NHL team at no cost. All that is needed is a pair of sneakers!

"Hockey is for Everyone" is a month-long NHL Diversity program that celebrates hockey's growing diversity. Each year, the initiative is launched during the NHL All-Star Weekend and concludes with the annual Willie O'Ree All-Star Weekend. The program began this past weekend with a series of clinics hosted during the 2004 NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN and will culminate on February 29 with the Ninth Annual Willie O'Ree All-Star Weekend in Anaheim, CA, named after Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the NHL. NHL Diversity provides support and unique programming to not-for-profit youth hockey organizations across North America that are committed to offering economically-disadvantaged boys and girls of all ages the opportunity to play hockey. Since its inception in 1995, NHL Diversity has exposed more than 30,000 boys and girls to unique hockey experiences, including the annual Willie O'Ree All-Star Weekend and the NHL Diversity Hockey Scholarship Program.
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