DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings have continued their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion with a special Youth Hockey Player of the Game during every home game this season, and the organization is proud to highlight unique stories about the exceptional young people being honored at each game.
Last month, the Red Wings hosted the annual Military Appreciation Night on Nov. 11 and Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Nov. 27, and each of those theme nights featured an inspiring Youth Hockey Player of the Game.
Along with proud partner Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Red Wings are excited to celebrate Lyndsay Palmer, who was the Youth Hockey Player of the Game on Military Appreciation Night and Payton Shock, who received the honor on Hockey Fights Cancer Night.
Palmer is the 10-year-old daughter of Motor City Veterans Hockey Association founder Mike Palmer, who was honored as part of the Red Wings and Tigers Game Changers series during Disability Pride Month last July.
Lyndsay Palmer, a Lake Orion, Mich., native, plays forward for her Troy Sting hockey team, and she hopes to follow in her father's footsteps as a hockey player and a leader.
In 2017, Mike Palmer spearheaded the establishment of the Motor City Veterans Hockey Association to introduce hockey to Veterans. His philosophy of "development first" has led to the introduction of a team within the program whose primary goal is to give new players more ice time and better opportunities to play in a structured environment.
After being honored for his work in the metro Detroit community in July, Mike Palmer said he was thrilled to watch his daughter also receive recognition from the Red Wings on Nov. 11.
"As a father and a coach, having Lyndsay recognized for her hard work and dedication to the sport was a proud moment," Mike Palmer said. "I see every day how much effort and passion Lyndsay has for the game, so her excitement in that moment was a wonderful experience."
Lyndsay Palmer said she was excited to be the second member of her family to be honored by the Red Wings in 2021, and she was happy to share the moment with her dad.
"It was a special moment, because both of us love hockey so much," Lyndsay Palmer said. "It was extra special for me because the Red Wings are my favorite team and I feel like I am a part of the team."
Her father agreed about the meaning of the honor.
"To be recognized by the Red Wings is a very humbling experience, but it reinforces that what we do in our community is appreciated, and it gives us a more motivation to keep grinding," Mike Palmer said.
And while Mike Palmer said he's proud of his daughter's passion and devotion to hockey, the eight-year U.S. Army Veteran said he's most proud of her leadership off the ice.
"Lyndsay has high aspirations for her hockey journey, but more importantly, she has set quality goals in life," he said. "Beyond the skill development and hockey growth, she's learned the value of service above self, and being a part of something bigger. Lyndsay is doing more at her age to help in the community than I could ever have dreamed of when I was a kid. That is what makes me the proudest."
Shortly after Military Appreciation Night, the Red Wings honored Shock during Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Nov. 27.
Shock, a 12-year-old from St. Clair Shores, Mich., representing the St. Clair Shores Saints girls' hockey team, recently battled Bone Cancer and was declared cancer-free for one year in August.
Shock's first experience with the Red Wings was last May during a virtual visit at DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan where she enjoyed a conversation with Red Wings forward Sam Gagner.
Gagner then took the visit a step further shortly after when he recorded a personalized video for Shock to congratulate her for being cancer-free.
Her father, Howard Shock, said the Red Wings have helped reinvigorate his daughter's passion for hockey after her diagnosis.
"We have been fans for many years. It has been a thrill for Payton to meet Sam," Howard Shock said. "Unfortunately, her spinal surgery prevented her from returning to hockey, but the Red Wings gave Payton the gift of joy, love and support. The organization made her feel connected to the sport she loves and part of a family of hockey fans."
Howard Shock said seeing his daughter being honored as the Youth Hockey Player of the Game on Nov. 27 was a tremendous experience for his whole family near the end of a very emotional year.
"It was an emotional moment," he said. "We were humbled by the roar of the crowd and the support of the fans. The experience lifted Payton up emotionally and spiritually. It serves as a reminder that brighter days are yet to come.
"The Red Wings gave us hope that there are better days ahead as we get ready for several doctors' appointments and scans next month. We would like to thank the Red Wings and Ilitch family for making a positive impact on our family."
Howard Shock said his biggest takeaway from his daughter's journey is her resilience, strength and courage, which are examples for everyone to follow.
"Payton never wanted to quit. Step by step, she moved forward through the treatment," he said. "There were many challenges along the way, but this experience gave her a sense of purpose. Words cannot describe how proud we are. Going through treatment at such a young age gave Payton the sense she can accomplish anything."