Devils Show Hockey Is For Everyone All Year ‘Round

Caela McLoughlin of the (the team’s official website) had an interesting piece up today that I thought I would like to highlight. It was on the various ways that the Devils participate in the “Hockey Is For Everyone” initiative put forth by the NHL.

As McLoughlin said in her article, Hockey Is For Everyone “aims to teach hockey to all who are interested and build more inclusive hockey communities that drive positive social change.”

She talked about the Devils’ support for the Special Olympics New Jersey. According to McLoughlin, “(f)rom June through November, the Devils joined with Special Olympics New Jersey for the organization’s inaugural year of the Lear to Skate program – the first of its kind in the Special Olympics movement.” She said that five rinks participated (all of whom are affiliated with the Devils as rink partners) throughout the state. At each of the sessions at the rink, “the Devils provided on-ice support and off-ice education about the sport of hockey to Special Olympics athletes and their families.”

McLoughlin said that the rink partners “donated, in total, 25 hours of ice time for the Special Olympics New Jersey Learn to Skate.” Now, for anyone who played hockey or has had someone in their family play hockey, they know that this is no small thing. Ice time is very valuable to rinks and in demand. So the rinks were really providing a great service to Special Olympics New Jersey and that is nice to see.

In addition, McLoughlin said that “(i)ndividuals from local hockey clubs also volunteered as instructors for the sessions.” She also said that “(t)he program also connected people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to local ice hockey, figure skating, and speed skating teams through Special Olympics New Jersey, USA Hockey and American Special Hockey Association.”

On another track, the Devils, on Monday against the Lightning, celebrated International Day of Disabled Persons. In recognition of this, nine-year-old Joel Tapia of the Woodbridge Warriors Sled Hockey Team was named Junior Captain of the Game. The Devils have done the Junior Captain of the Game before, most notably during Hockey Fights Cancer Night.

McLoughlin mentioned Joel’s role in being the Junior Captain. He got to high five the players as they came out of the locker room before the game and got to line up with the team on the blue line during the national anthem. He was introduced to the crowd by PA Announcer Kevin Clark as well.

In addition to all of this, McLoughlin says that the Devils will be celebrating American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) Night on Friday, December 14 when the Devils face the Vegas Golden Knights. She said that “(t)he Devils will have one representative from each of the five local ASHA clubs join the team on the blue line for hte National Anthem. ASHA will also be the 50/50 beneficiary that evening, where fans can donate by participating in the raffle.”

For more information, you can read Caela’s article over at the Devils’ official site here.

Devils to Screen “Soul on Ice” Following Sharks Game on Sunday

As part of the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” initiative, the Devils will be doing a few special events during the month of February.

The first comes this Sunday as the team hosts the San Jose Sharks and will be screening the film “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future” following the game. Prior to the movie, there will be a panel discussion involving NHL legend Willie O’Ree – who broke the NHL’s color barrier as a player and has served as a league ambassador for the last few decades; former NHL’er and current MSG Network television analyst, Anson Carter; current Devils forward Devante Smith-Pelly; former Devils captain Bryce Salvador; and the director of the film, Damon Kwame Mason.

The Devils website included a quote from Hugh Weber, Devils and Prudential Center President. He mentioned that “(T)he ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ movement has been a driving theme in our year-round efforts to grow and diversify the sport of hockey in Newark and across New Jersey. From opening our doors to youth who have never experienced the game to bringing street hockey to the neighborhoods of Newark in the summer, the Devils are fully dedicated to making this sport accessible and enjoyable for everyone that wants to participate.”

The site gives a synopsis of the “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future” movie. It includes interviews with current black NHL players as well as former players who have paved the way for those who currently skate in the NHL. It also follows younger black players and their “journeys to the NHL to illustrate the experiences and challenges that today’s young players face.” It also documents the growing popularity of the game amongst black athletes. The site also gives the website for the movie:

Kids from Hockey in New Jersey, which is “the state’s preeminent urban youth development program and an official program of Hockey is for Everyone, will also be on hand to experience the event.” The Devils’ site says that the team and the Prudential Center have supported “Hockey in New Jersey since the team moved to Newark in 2007, and have helped the program expand to Englewood and Jersey City in the past 18 months.” The Devils support this great cause by donated “ice time, an annual equipment drive, special events, volunteers and player interaction.” To learn more about this great grassroots hockey program, you can visit

The Devils site also notes in this article that the team will continue the Hockey is for Everyone initiative with Pride Night on February 27 against the Canadiens. That game, on a Monday, will be the first day of the NHL’s Pride Week.

The Hockey is for Everyone program is a great thing for kids. Everyone knows that hockey is not a cheap sport. The equipment and ice time can really eat into a family’s finances. With teams like the Devils reaching out at a grassroots level, it cuts down on some of the cost and allows kids from all backgrounds and economic situations to enjoy the game we all love both as players and spectators.

On a related note, I will be at the Devils-Sharks game this Sunday live and, because of this, my game post will come a little bit later than usual for a 12:30 puck drop.