NIPISSING FIRST NATION – An all-Native team comprised of former National Hockey League players is ready to hit the ice in support of a variety of worthy causes.
“In addition to playing fund-raiser games with local teams, our players will be available as motivational speakers, conduct hockey clinics, visit schools, and do whatever they can to assist the Aboriginal community,” says general manager Bryan Trottier, a Hockey Hall-of-Famer who will also skate some shifts with Team Aboriginal NHL.
Trottier will be able to select players for various games from a talent pool of former NHLers that includes such familiar names as George Armstrong, Jim Neilson, Reggie Leach, Chris Simon, and Dale McCourt.¼br> “Individual players will visit the classroom and talk about staying in school, substance abuse, goal-setting, motivational skills and other subjects important to the Native leaders of tomorrow,” said Trottier, who helped the New York Islanders win four Stanley Cups and the Pittsburgh Penguins another two. “Mini hockey clinics can be set up during the day to help the aspiring hockey players to hone their skills. Boys and girls alike will learn from the best and interact with their hockey heroes. Our players are also looking forward to meeting with community Elders.”
Team Aboriginal was created with the encouragement and assistance of National Hockey League Alumni Association members Ron Ellis, Rene Robert, Kent Douglas, John Chabot and Dan Frawley. Other supporters have included John Donnelly and Sophie Radecki of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, and Clint Davis — National Director of Aboriginal Banking for BMO Financial Group, which has signed on as the team’s major sponsor for the inaugural season.
“The NHL Alumni Association is thrilled that BMO has joined our team as a presenting sponsor of our hockey tour this season,” said executive director Mark Napier. “BMO does such great charitable work in our communities, which is an important component of what we do. With their help we are pleased to be able to introduce so many new elements to this season’s tour.
“We’re excited to have the new Aboriginal Tour, to be able to honour a community hero at every game, as well as have our players take part in autograph sessions at local BMO branches. These branch visits will allow the NHL Alumni to touch the community on a very personal level, which is what the NHL Alumni – ‘Hockey’s Greatest Family’ – is all about – giving back.”