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: www.soulonicemovie.com.
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 www.hockeyinNJ.com.
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.