DETROIT - Fans are invited to join in the Hockey is for Everyone celebration at Little Caesars Arena this Sunday, Feb. 23, when the Detroit Red Wings host the Calgary Flames. In partnership with the NHL and NHLPA, the Red Wings will highlight unique opportunities and programming to support diversity and inclusion in hockey.
Rico Phillips, the 2019 Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award winner and founder of the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program, will perform Sunday's ceremonial puck drop. The Willie O'Ree Community Award is named after O'Ree, a 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee who became the first black player in the NHL.
The Red Wings organization will also host several groups to serve as VIP guests. Representatives from Affirmations, a nonprofit organization based in Ferndale, Mich., will be in attendance. Affirmations provides a welcoming space where people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions and cultures can learn, grow and socialize. The Red Wings will also welcome the Sled Wings and Sled Dogs, adaptive hockey programs for athletes with physical disabilities. The teams joined forces in 2019 to represent the Detroit Red Wings in the USA Hockey Sled Classic with support from the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and Warrior Hockey. Several members of the Red Wings sled team, which achieved their first division championship in 2019, will be alongside the Red Wings starters on the blue line during the singing of the National Anthem and "O Canada."
Select Red Wings players will use hockey sticks wrapped with Pride Tape during pregame warm-ups. The autographed sticks will then be auctioned at www.DetroitRedWings.com/Auction, with proceeds benefiting You Can Play and Affirmations. The online auction will run through Sunday, March 1.
Also, in attendance will be representatives from the Clark Park Coalition, East Side Hockey Foundation Ice Arena and Jack Adams Ice Arena, which comprise the newly-minted Detroit Hockey Rink Collaborative, a traditional hockey component of the Detroit Red Wings Learn, Play, Score program that was unveiled on Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The VIP guests will be invited to a pregame screening of Soul On Ice: Past, Present & Future, a 2016 American documentary film that tells the story of the Colored Hockey League and the history of Black players in ice hockey in the United States and Canada.
Fans are invited to join in the Red Wings' ongoing celebration of Black History Month by visiting the exhibit on the Little Caesars Arena concourse near the Gordie Howe statue. The exhibit, which has run during Red Wings home games throughout the month of February, features historic artifacts and photos of black players, community figures and fans who impacted the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball and the Red Wings and Tigers organizations throughout history.
Fans are also encouraged to join the conversation in support of Hockey is for Everyone by sharing their stories of how hockey has made a positive impact via Facebook (facebook.com/detroitredwings), Instagram (@DetroitRedWings and @HockeytownCares) or Twitter (@DetroitRedWings) using the official hashtag #HockeyIsForEveryone. Red Wings fans not in attendance for the Hockey is for Everyone Celebration can learn more at www.NHL.com/HockeyIsForEveryone