DETROIT — Honoring the military is a league-wide cause that all 30 NHL teams support by adding Military Appreciation Night to its regular season calendars. But for Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser, his support doesn’t stop there.
Through DeKeyser’s Hometown Heroes, the Michigan native supports the armed forces all season long by donating two tickets to an active or retired military member and a guest to attend each of the Wings home games.
While it is not only a team effort but also a league effort to honor the military men and women of America, DeKeyser has become the Wings’ representative for supporting the troops with his player initiative efforts.
“I think our military is important to everybody around here,” he said. “They do a lot for our country. It’s kind of nice when you can give back to them and give them a little something extra special.”
DeKeyser visited the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Twp., Mich., during the summer where he met with military members and got the opportunity to ride along with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Additionally, he was one of six Wings to visit the Michigan National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Lansing as part of the sixth annual MI Wings Community Tour in which Wings players make stops at various schools, businesses, hospitals and military bases throughout the state on their way to training camp in Traverse City, Mich.
During the holiday season, DeKeyser participated in a shopping spree in December courtesy of local sponsors in which 10 children from Operation Military Kids received a $125 spending limit at Meijer in Northville, Mich.
It doesn’t stop there for the three-season pro, as DeKeyser hosts an active or retired military member and a guest at each of the Wings home games this season.
“I have a few of my guests down after the game,” he said. “Kinda show them around the locker room a little bit and see how they’re doing, see how their day is going. Hopefully they enjoy the game.”
The Wings became the 27th NHL team to wear camouflage uniforms during warm-ups prior to their game on Nov. 7, against the New Jersey Devils. The jerseys were auctioned off in the following weeks, raising $29,429 in funds for Help Our Disabled Troops.
“I think they’re pretty cool,” DeKeyser said about the jerseys. “I think it’s a cool thing that (we did) for warm-ups and I kinda wish we were wearing them the whole game, that’d be sweet.”
The league has displayed its support of the military prominently for years but it is particularly important for DeKeyser because his father served in the Vietnam War.
“It’s great for me to be able to do that because our military does so much for us and I feel like it’s important.”