Hockey Fights Cancer

St. Louis Blues

Masks of Jake Allen, Carter Hutton to honor kids impacted by cancer

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The St. Louis Blues will hold their Hockey Fights Cancer night during their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Friday, and both goalies, Jake Allen and Carter Hutton, will be sporting special masks.

Allen, who will back up, saw the concept for his mask design created by Alex Pietrangelo’s niece, Ellie Kannel. Three years ago she was diagnosed with a form of kidney cancer that affects mostly children. Along with a Hockey Fights Cancer logo, the Blue Note and a snake drawing done by Ellie, the names of children who have been affected by cancer will also be featured, thanks to a gorgeous paint job by Jason Livery of Head Strong Grafx.

There will be close to 400 names of kids who have battled cancer on Hutton’s mask when he starts versus the Kings. In the design of the “I Fight For…” cards that players and staff have filled out during the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer month, the mask is a stunning reminder of just how many people the disease touches.

“It’s definitely powerful,” said Hutton via the Blues website. “For them to be able to individualize it with every kid on there, they’ve been through so many battles in their life, it’s going to be a great honor to wear their name. When you see how much cancer affects everyone on a day-to-day basis, I’m just happy to be part of it.”

Created by Jesse Acciacca of Jesse’s Custom Designs, Hutton’s mask will be donated to Friends of Kids with Cancer and will be auctioned off in the future. Allen’s will be up for bid during the team’s Casino Night last this season benefiting St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

The Blues as a team will be wearing bedazzled jerseys during warm-ups in honor of the late Ari Dougan, an 11-year-old who passed away last month following an eight-year battle with cancer. She had formed a very close bond with Vladimir Tarasenko over the last few years and the star forward and Dougan’s family will take part in the pre-game faceoff.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Alex Ovechkin delivers memorable night for young cancer survivor (Video)

Sportsnet
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Alex Ovechkin made a promise before Saturday night’s game. He told 13-year-old Alex Luey that if he scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he would try and find him in the Air Canada Centre crowd.

Luey beat osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and had a wish to meet Ovechkin, his favorite hockey player. He got that chance thanks to Sportsnet’s “Hometown Hockey,” which surprised him last month with a video message from the Capitals captain. In it, Ovechkin told him he couldn’t wait to see him when Washington was in town to face the Maple Leafs.

[Ovechkin continues ascent up the NHL’s goal-scoring list]

Fast forward to Saturday with the occasion being the Maple Leafs’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Luey was on the Capitals bench for warmups and read out the starting lineup inside the team’s dressing room. Ovechkin then delivered two gifts in the first period with a pair of goals. He capped off the night with an empty-netter to seal the win and complete his 20th career hat trick and bring Luey and his family to tears.

“I said if I’m going to score a goal, it’s going to be for him,” Ovechkin said afterward. “After my first goal, I tried to look in the stands. He tell me where he’s going to sit, but I couldn’t see him.”

The memories didn’t stop there for Luey, who was also given Ovechkin signed gloves, helmet and a stick. Inside the Capitals room again after the game, goaltender Philipp Grubauer presented him with their player of the game award to a standing ovation.

That’s a memory that will last a lifetime for both Luey and his family, and Ovechkin.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Nicholle Anderson joins NHL’s ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ efforts

NHL
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When Nicholle Anderson was diagnosed with cancer, her teaching background kicked in.

”I just wanted to educate people,” she said. ”That’s the teacher in me, so I was never shy to open up about it.”

The wife of Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson began blogging about it not long after being diagnosed last fall with late-stage nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Nicholle is now cancer-free and after serving as an inspiration to Craig and the Senators last season, she wants to share her experience with others as the NHL and NHL Players’ Association’s latest ”Hockey Fights Cancer” ambassador.

”What it’s done to my life in the last year, if I can take this opportunity and educate everybody about it, I’m going to do it,” Nicholle said by phone Tuesday. ”It’s going to be a little emotional for me, too. I understand that. But the next few weeks I feel like I’m doing good.”

As her husband noted when winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy last summer for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey, Nicholle doesn’t crave the limelight. But after starting cancer treatments and meeting patients afraid to talk about it, she immediately wanted to speak out on the subject.

Nicholle wants people to know that she contracted nasopharyngeal carcinoma from the virus that causes mono, that only seven in a million people get it and that people who feel something is off in their bodies should get it checked out.

She also wants people to know that even though she beat cancer over a span of seven months and several radiation and chemotherapy treatments, it’s ”brutal” behind closed doors and has an impact on a lot of people.

”I got it, maybe a friend of mine will have it, a family member will have it,” Nicholle said. ”Cancer’s reality. I feel like we all need to be proactive here and raise money not just for research but to help everybody because in the long run, everybody’s getting cancer, so it affects everybody.”

The Senators let Craig take time away from the team to be with his family after Nicholle’s diagnosis. The couple have two sons, Jake and Levi. When Craig was on the ice, he went 25-11-4 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .926 save percentage to help Ottawa make the playoffs.

”Nicholle’s strength, she was the one that wanted me to go back and play so much, and we had so much support,” Craig said when accepting the Masterton in June. ”Everyone was there for us.”

Long before Nicholle’s diagnosis, the Andersons dedicated time and energy to helping others. Nicholle was heavily involved in Senators’ charity efforts, and Craig opened their home to teammates to have dinner and watch football on Sundays.

”Just two tremendous people, really giving, caring – great human beings,” said former Senators forward Alex Chiasson, who spent Thanksgiving 2015 at the Anderson home in Florida. ”They’re great people and obviously the battle that Nicholle had to go through and they had to at the same time as a family, I can’t imagine how hard that would’ve been. I think everything’s going better now. She’s gotten some good treatment. Really glad for that family to hear some positive news.”

Nicholle was given a clean bill of health following a CT scan in May. Another test in August showed she was still OK.

”That’s the only thing you’ve been hoping for,” Chiasson said. ”I think all that is much bigger than the game of hockey.”

Nicholle said ”hockey’s not about me,” and she’d prefer to fly under the radar. But after the way people in hockey rallied around her, she’s eager to give back.

”When the cancer card presents itself, everybody knows the fear of it and everybody came together,” Nicholle said. ”If I can get the message out there in this next month to even encourage people to make sure they’re following up on their own doctor visits and cluing in on their body and saying, ‘OK this isn’t normal, I’ve never had this, I need to get checked,’ then I’m doing the right thing.”

No subject is taboo for Flyers fans’ boos

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The Philadelphia Flyers are off to a gorgeous start, but their home opener wasn’t all pretty. According to Puck Daddy and various sources, Flyers fans added to the city’s folklore for over-the-line partisanship on Wednesday by booing members of rival teams … who were part of a “Hockey Fights Cancer” campaign. Yikes.

Just as the sports world was getting around to feeling sorry for Philly fans after the Eagles and Phillies produced large quantities of misery, they slap away that sympathy with an ill-timed round of jeers. (That being said, we’d advise you to react in the same way people should to Sean Avery’s antics: by shaking your head and rolling your eyes. It’s mostly harmless stupidity, except when they start pummeling someone for wearing a Sidney Crosby jersey.)

It’s not fair to say that all Flyers/Philadelphia sports fans have such a cruel streak, but like Vancouver residents after Game 7 Defeat Riots Part II, it’s likely that the bad apples will spoil the bunch. Feel free to add more examples in the comments – Philly fans have quite the resume – but here’s some of the most obvious low points in Philadelphia fandom. (This story provided backup and also gives some other cringe-worthy moments.)

  • Cheering when Michael Irvin suffered a career-ending injury. Yes, the Dallas Cowboys are hated rivals, but that is literally the opposite of how most fan bases react to such situations. (Philly fans have reversed this trend, for the most part, recently.)
  • Bombarding a guy dressed up as Santa with snowballs just seems like bad form, doesn’t it?
  • As you’ve heard, Philly fans have been accused at throwing batteries on occasion, which is significantly worse (except when those snowballs are actually just frozen bricks/rocks/etc.)
  • Going the hockey route, Flyers fans booed Sarah Palin and one fan ended up getting into an unforgettable penalty box tussle with Tie Domi.

Again, surely there are plenty – likely millions – of Philadelphia sports fans who are civilized and knowledgeable. Still, moments like these make you wonder if a huge portion of the city’s sports fans are actually trying to live up to their bad reputation.

Tough guy Colton Orr dons pink skates tonight for Hockey Fights Cancer

We’ve talked about the efforts being made by teams and players in the NHL to both raise money and awareness for Hockey Fights Cancer. Teams are doing great things to raise money to give to charity while some players are donning pink gear to show their support to the cause. We’ve seen Rick DiPietro throw on pink goalie pads to do his part but you don’t usually see an enforcer put anything pink on themselves ever. That’s where Toronto Maple Leafs fighter Colton Orr is doing things a little bit differently.

Orr is stepping things up in a more noticeable way to show his support for Hockey Fights Cancer by wearing pink skates in tonight’s game against the New York Rangers and he’s got a special reason for doing so.

Colton Orr recently put in a request with equipment manufacturer Reebok to see what they could come up with for the league’s Hockey Fights Cancer month. The company delivered hand-painted pink skates for the Toronto forward to wear in Saturday night’s game against the New York Rangers.

Orr is believed to be the first hockey player to wear pink skates and he did so in memory of Todd Davison, a former teammate with the WHL’s Regina Pats who died in 2006 after fighting a rare form of cancer.

“I had a teammate and friend, he was 18 and he passed away from synovial sarcoma,” Orr said Saturday morning. “Just being involved in any kind of cancer awareness is a privilege and an honour for me to help out any way I can.”

You see the way Colton Orr plays on the ice and you sometimes assume that a guy that plays as hard as he does and sometimes as ferocious as he’s capable and you don’t think he’s got a big heart in there, but Orr is proving otherwise. There’s never anything wrong with anyone doing something for charity, and to have a guy that’s better known for punching someone’s lights out serving notice by lacing up pink skates… Well, who is really going to say anything to him about that?