As the NHL season kicks off, hockey fans across the globe are gearing up for another thrilling year of on-ice action. However, beyond the ice, there are several notable NHL teams making a profound impact on their communities. Through foundations, charities and other philanthropic activities, these teams are committed to making their community a better place.
In Alberta, the Calgary Flames Foundation has been a pillar in the community for several decades. The foundation’s mission is to support local initiatives that promote education, health, and wellness, all while addressing social issues.
One of the foundation’s programs, titled “Flames EvenStrength Program” (FESP) in partnership with Hockey Calgary and KidSport, is designed to help alleviate the cost of hockey equipment to underprivileged youth. This program has introduced hundreds of children to the sport of hockey and has instilled traits like teamwork, discipline, and perseverance. Since 1998, the FESP has distributed over $3,800,000 to minor hockey players so they can participate in the sport they love.
The Flames Foundation also places a strong emphasis on education. In partnership with The Educational Partnerships Foundation (TEPF), the Flames support the “Reading… Give it a Shot!” program. This program aims to promote literacy and improve reading comprehension in young children by making it into a fun activity.
In the heart of Detroit, the Red Wings Foundation has been a beacon of hope and support for the city’s residents. Established in 2009, this foundation focuses on youth hockey, community development, and supporting veterans.
The Red Wings’ commitment to developing youth hockey is evident through their “Learn, Play, Score” program. This program was started during the 2019-20 season to make hockey more accessible to children across the city of Detroit. Through partnerships with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, Detroit Public Schools, and other organizations, the Red Wings have introduced over 30,000 children to the sport of hockey.
The Red Wings Foundation also hosts other events throughout the season, like their 50/50 Charity Raffle. Since the raffle’s inception, it has raised over $600,000 for the Detroit Red Wings Foundation and local non-profits.
In sunny Florida, the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation stands out for its dedication to supporting grassroots activists. Their "Lightning Community Heroes Program" is the main philanthropy of the Lightning Foundation, and highlights volunteers who help the less fortunate in the area.
At each of the Lightning home games, a local “hero” is selected and honored during an in-game ceremony. During this ceremony, the Lightning present the hero with a $50,000 donation to a non-profit of their choice. This allows the individual to continue their efforts to make a difference in the greater Tampa Bay community. Since 2011 when the program was created, the Lightning has honored over 550 community heroes and donated almost $30 million.
The Lightning also participate in an event called “Coop’s Catch for Kids,” which raises funds for pediatric cancer research. During this event, players and celebrities are paired with anglers, and the group participates in a catch-and-release fishing tournament. The event has been hosted since 2016 and has raised over $650,000.
These are just a few examples of the remarkable work NHL teams are doing through their foundations. Across North America, these organizations are making a positive impact by addressing critical issues, fostering inclusivity, and leaving a lasting legacy of community support. As the NHL continues to thrive, so too do the foundations that represent the heart and soul of these hockey teams.