Tap those sticks on the ice for the selflessness of hockey fans.
The participation in Hockey Fights Cancer has become a popular, unifying event that has raised millions of dollars for cancer research and treatment throughout North America.
In other words, the generosity on display at Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at the Honda Center Friday night literally saves lives.
Part of a month-long initiative spearheaded by the National Hockey League, all thirty teams will host their own Hockey Fights Cancer Night in an effort to distribute money to partners in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Prostate Cancer Canada, ZERO - The Project to End Prostate Cancer and the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, along with local cancer charities in NHL markets.
The Anaheim Ducks provided their own donation targets, as Sara Blake, wife of Ducks left wing and cancer survivor Jason Blake, was selling Wrap and Remember bracelets on the concourse throughout the game. With every purchase of a 45 bracelet, a portion of the proceeds went to the Orange County Inland Empire chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The participation wasnt limited to those on the outside of the glass, looking in. Ducks coaches, management, broadcasters and staff wore official Hockey Fights Cancer ties and lavender ribbons, while players sticks were wrapped in lavender hockey tape, with a selection of the sticks available in an ongoing online auction on the Ducks site (hyperlink unavailable due to website maintenance; its in the Ducks Auctions pull down tab under SHOP).
It was also a fulfilling night for Ducks Assistant Captain Saku Koivu, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2001 when he was captain of the Montreal Canadiens.
Koivu returned to the Canadiens on the third-to-final game of the season in April, 2002, and received an eight-minute standing ovation in one of the most emotional displays of perseverance in NHL history. He received the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy following the 2002 playoffs.
Prior to Fridays game, Koivu revealed how he was able to successfully beat back cancer in a conversation with Ducks television reporter Kent French.
Especially early on when I was diagnosed, the support and help that I got, first of all from my family and my friends, but just everybody in Montreal and in the Province of Quebec and worldwide emails and letters that we got were overwhelming, Koivu said. I think thats the most important thing, early on for anybody who goes through the battle with cancer is to have the support so you dont have to be there by yourself.
There is therapeutic value in the NHLs Hockey Fights Cancer nights, which in addition to the monetary value of the donations provided, also exhibit positivity and a sense of togetherness that can aid those affected by cancer.
We kind of had this motto early on when we went through the treatment, which was we were trying to find something positive about every day, something to laugh about, Koivu said. It was tough at times, but if you could put a smile on your face and stay positive, I think it goes a long way.
Through nights like these at Honda Center as well as the united backing the Love for Lokomotiv benefit has produced there is a tremendous amount of good-will being generated by those who play, coach and follow the sport of hockey in 2011.
NOTES: Anaheim generated 36 shots on Kari Lehtonen, but had trouble solving the red hot Dallas Stars goaltender in their first home loss of the season, a 3-1 setback to the streaking Dallas Stars, who won their fifth straight game. Corey Perry scored the lone Anaheim goal. The Ducks surrendered two goals in the games first 7:40, prompting Head Coach Randy Carlyle to offer this assessment on what the early stages of the game looked like: Turnover-fest. We looked like we were working at a restaurant flipping flapjacks, just turning it over, turning it over, turning it over. We were in the middle of the ice trying to do too many things, and we can not play that way. Anaheim had a second-period goal by Cam Fowler disallowed when Perry was ruled to have interfered with Lehtonen during the shot. Though Carlyle acknowledged that Perry wasnt anywhere near the crease, he refused to offer any criticism of the officiating. Its not my job to criticize the officials. The way I look at it, if we make as many mistakes as the officials do in a hockey game, well have a pretty good game. Theres no excuse for officiating in our books. George Parros may be hearing from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan after his errant shoulder caught the head of Stars forward Krys Barch in the second period. No penalty was assessed on the play that saw Barch drop to the ice to receive medical attention. He did not leave the game. With the loss, the Ducks fell to 2-1-0 against the Pacific Division this year. Both wins came against San Jose. Anaheim has killed off all 17 of their opponents power plays at home this season.