I’ve read a lot of lockout stories the last few weeks, especially ones about those most affected by the lockout.
The stories either focus on players overseas, those who can’t get a job playing overseas, or the guy who works in the arenas/restaurants/bars who will see fewer hours and less tips because of the lockout. Some even say the fans are the main losers of the lockout.
But there’s an even more important group that will be missing out because of the lockout that no one is focussing on.
Charities and the people they serve.
Yes, some charities will see a decrease in money raised this year if there is no NHL season.
As I live in Ottawa, I’m more familiar with the Senators, so I’ll use them as an example, but this could be applied to almost any team across the continent.
When you go to a game, what’s do you constantly see as you go to your seat? Volunteers selling 50/50 tickets. Money raised goes to the Ottawa Sens Foundation. In turn, they send that money out to various groups in the community, whether it be Roger’s House, CHEO, the Project S.T.E.P. campaign and others. According the Sens website, “the 50/50 draw is a fund-raising program for the Ottawa Senators Foundation, which is a registered Canadian charity that provides funding and gifts-in-kind to other charities with a focus on disadvantaged youth.”
Last year, in three home playoff games, they raised $60,000. In 41 regular season games, they raised more than $600,000. Throw in the preseason games, and one unclaimed prize (so the money goes back to the Foundation), and the 50-50 draw raised more than $700,000 last season.
If there is no hockey this year, that’s a big chunk of change that won’t be going back into the community. That’s money lost for those charities and non-for-profits.
Players in the community
While some players have chosen to stay in Ottawa (Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Phillips), the majority of them are off playing hockey elsewhere. The young guys (Jared Cowen, Jakob Silfverberg, Mika Zibanejad) are playing for Binghamton in the AHL. Older guys (Jason Spezza, Sergei Gonchar, Erik Karlsson) are playing in various leagues overseas.
That takes away from all the charity work these guys do in the community. Spezza, for example, is involved with Ronald McDonald House charities. He also has a program called Spelling with Spezza. Spezza goes to classrooms to talk about the importance of spelling. Winners get a signed poster and a pair of tickets to a Sens game.
Players like Colin Greening, Kyle Turris and Peter Regin are also playing overseas. In short, with these players not in the community, it takes away from all the charity work these guys do in Ottawa. Groups that would count on Sens players in the past will have to come up with new ways to get the public to donate money.
Last year, the Ottawa Senators participated in many team-led charity work.
There were games with a focus to raise awareness of youth mental health through Do It For Daren.
There’s the team’s casino blackjack night, where players run the games at a casino fundraiser (last year called the Ferguslea Sens Soirée) for “youth mental health and addictions, pediatric healthcare programs and outdoor community rink construction projects.” So far, that event has raised more than $3 million. Last year, it brought in $250,000.
Then there’s the annual telethon run on Sportsnet for Roger’s House, which takes place during a Sens game. Last year, it raised $116,425.
No, I’m not 100% positive, but if there’s no season, I’m guessing many of these events don’t go ahead. Or if they do, it won’t be with as many players, since they’re currently spread throughout the world.
The Sens do a lot of work with the Ottawa Food Bank. On Dec. 16 of last year, hockey fans attending the Penguins-Senators game were encouraged to bring canned food for donation to the food bank. The game this year to raise food was scheduled to be Dec. 15 against the Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings.
Then there was Game seven against the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Taking place in New York, the Sens decided to have fans watch the game at Scotiabank. The admission was a donation to the food bank.
On Oct. 1, 2011, the Sens hosted a Puck Drop event, where fans could see the Sens’ new heritage jersey, watch an open practice, and participate in events like inflatable games, face painting and what not. Again, admission was free, but the Sens were asking for donations to the Food Bank and the Kanata Food Cupboard.
Just last week, it was announced that the amount of people, especially kids, using the food banks were at an all-time high throughout Canada. Now, they’ll have to find new ways to collect the items they would normally get through hockey programs.
Apart from the players participation, there would obviously be a decrease in the amount of prizes donated to local groups to use for prizes. Ever go to a fundraiser and have a chance to win tickets for a Sens hockey game? Or game-worn memorabilia? Or signed hockey merchandise?
Plus, there are player visits to schools, charities and public events.
The Sens have a fundraising program where a group can sell tickets for Sens games and make money for their fundraiser.
In short, the Sens do a lot in this community, and I doubt I touched on a lot of it.
Like I mentioned, I’m not picking on the Sens. I just happen to live in Ottawa, so I know more about their activities. I’m sure most of the other teams have similar initiatives.
But it’s a shame that with a lockout, a lot of these non-for-profit groups are going to see a decrease in fundraising. Millions of dollars to charity groups will be lost this year if an NHL season doesn’t go ahead.
The people who benefit from these groups are the ones most affected by the lockout. Maybe if the NHL and NHPLA see that, they’ll realize that their squabble between millionaires and billionaires are hurting a lot of people who have trouble putting food on the table.