Hockey Fights Cancer

NHL

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

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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?

Hockey Fights Cancer comes out a big winner on Twitter and in Edmonton

You can say we’re big fans of doing good things for charity around here and with this month being the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer month, seeing some of the innovative ways teams are going about raising money for charity is interesting to see play out. The Kings and Avalanche decided to amp things up in a fascinating way by involving hockey fans on Twitter. Each team asked that Twitter users made use of a team-centric hashtag (either #GoKings or #GoAvs) during last night’s game between the teams. Each time that hashtag was used while the game was going on, depending on which team you decided to throw your support behind, the team would give a dollar to the charity of their choosing.

As things tend to go on Twitter, it caught on like wildfire and the Los Angeles Kings were apparently so popular during this time that “#GoKings” became the top trending topic on Twitter for a short time. Not bad considering all the other events going on last night that had users buzzing. So how did things turn out? Turns out the Kings won on the ice and on the Internet. The Kings came through with 29,374 tweets while the Avs had 13,876 for the game. While the battle on the Internet was for all fun and games, the real winner was charity and that’s something anyone can get behind.

Meanwhile in Edmonton, the Oilers held a Rally Against Cancer to raise money for local charities in the Edmonton area and the people there really came through in a big way raising $100,000 for charity. It’s the second year in a row they’ve raised six-figures worth of dough. Sure they might struggle on the ice, but off of it they’re taking care of business.

Today’s moment of zen: Rick DiPietro’s Hockey Fights Cancer pink goalie pads

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One of the best things the NHL does each year is their dedicated work for Hockey Fights Cancer, wherein teams, players, and fans all come together to help raise money to help fund cancer research and treatment organizations. Part of that support is having players use pink-colored equipment in practice to show their support for the cause. Sometimes that equipment can be a little bit noticeable.

In Toronto this morning, Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro practiced with his fancy new gear that’s fetching and eye-catching. And by that, I mean it’s very, very pink. Photos are courtesy of the NHL . (click to enlarge)

Those are… Absolutely incredible. I’d wager that getting DiPietro or any goalie to wear those in a game would provide enough of a distraction to the opponents it’d make for a worthwhile (and charitable!) venture for someone to try out. For what it’s worth, fans can do their part to contribute to Hockey Fights Cancer by giving to any of the charities or participating in team and fan events designed to give to the cause or by purchasing special items from the NHL Shop designed specifically for Hockey Fights Cancer.

Update: Rick DiPietro tells Chris Johnston that he will, indeed, wear the pads in a game as soon as they’re broken in. I fear for the eyes of the opponent he faces off against. As it is, DiPietro will continue to wear the pads for the rest of the month as this is Hockey Fights Cancer month for the NHL.