On October 13th, 2012 a host of Players from across the continent descended on Striling-Rawdon, Ontario to honour a commitment made to bring NHL Players to the to the community as part of being named Canada’s 2012 Kraft Hockeyville.
Eight NHL players arrived bright and early at the arena to skate with youngsters for a full day. As they entered the arena, the players were met with many hand-made signs welcoming NHLPA members and staff.
Matt Cooke (who grew up playing in Stirling), Brad Richardson, Derek Smith, Jamal Mayers, Kurtis Foster, James Reimer, Nick Foligno, and Josh Bailey all skated with kids of various ages, ran drills, and offered tips to the young players. As they left the ice, they spent time signing jerseys, helmets, hats, sticks, and hockey cards for their young fans. They also posed for many photos with the kids and posed for a group shot outside of the arena with a large group of Stirling Minor Hockey players.
It brings back a lot of memories. This is where we started. We all feel a connection to these kind of rinks because this is where we started to play hockey and the people who are involved got us to where we are today. So it’s great to come back and give back.” – Nick Foligno
It was a simple event that made a big impact on the small community of Stirling-Rawdon. Parked cars spilled over the arena parking lot into the surrounding streets outside the arena as fans came to meet their on-ice heroes.
This player skate continues the trend of NHL players dropping in on minor hockey practices. Since the lockout began, over 75 players across North America have surprised local minor hockey teams by showing up to their practices to train with kids.
While the event made a lasting impact on the players, who were reminded of their journey from childhood to the NHL, the hours spent on the ice meant the world to the kids who participated.