These "Vancouver 9" as I have dubbed them: the Sedins, Bieksa, Hamhuis, Lapierre, Schneider, Higgins, Malhotra and former Canuck Willie Mitchell rent their own ice, organize times and pick the drills they will do. They really do have a dedication and skill level that does set apart from the rest. At practice they sign autographs for fans and have more interaction with the fans then usual. It is easy to see why someone like Tyler stops by to see practice. Tyler did ask me for the time and he realized he was late for class. With a good laugh we headed out of the arena and finished our conversation about hockey. Tyler didn't seem the least bit worried he was going to be 15 minutes late for class and why should he? He just got to watch superstar hockey players practice!
Hockey players are not only true athletes but they are extremely generous people as well. Getting to watch practice so many times last year I got to watch players from all sorts of teams interact with fans. The Canucks are really truly a team full of great guys who always take the time to talk to young children watching practice and the super excited adults who "can't believe they are at practice." Three other teams that blew my mind last year with they generousity were the New York Rangers, the Anaheim Ducks and the Winnipeg Jets. They were finding pucks and pins for fans, and showing children how to tape hockey sticks. It was wild and a blast to watch. The Washington Capitals were super chatty with fans and the Detroit Red WIngs had some children join them at the end of practice for drills.
Not only do hockey players lend time to fans and causes but they also donate money. It is rumoured the Vancouver Canucks are the team in the NHL who donate the most time and money to charities and the Vancouver community. From fundraisers for the Canucks Autism Network to visiting sick children at BC Children's hospital to golf tournaments, the Canucks are involved in a ton of events in the province during the season.
Vancouver Canuck D-Man Kevin Bieksa has created a BIG buzz in Vancouver with the announcement of his Bieksa's Buddies Charity hockey game vs the UBC Thunderbirds October 17th. Tickets sold out faster then expected and why wouldn't they? Bieksa's dad is referee, players are encouraged to be "creative" on the ice and every penny raised goes to support the 3 different charities. The Canucks Autism Network, the Canucks Children Hospice and the Canucks Family Education Centre are all benefiting from Bieksa's generosity. Below I have included video clips of Kevin Bieksa talking about the Charity hockey game on the morning news here in Vancouver. A couple videos of great goals scored by "Juice" which is Bieksa's nickname in the locker room. A video of Bieksa dropping the gloves because he does have a snarky side and fights for his teammates, plus a video of Bieksa talking to children about hockey and supporting the memory of his dear friend and former teammate Rick Rypien. Not only is Bieksa a fantastic, skilled, entertaining player on the ice, he has a good heart and understands that charities are losing out. Helping to raise money for charity while creating an opportunity for Vancouver Canucks fans to watch their locked out players play, is going to make for a great night!