charity work

2020 NHL Draft players Fortnite charity return
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PHT Morning Skate: Players play Fortnite for charity; Progress for NHL return?

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Progress in return from Pandemic? 2020 NHL Draft updates

• Pierre LeBrun reports that the NHL and NHLPA made some progress regarding a possible 24-team playoff format. Naturally, LeBrun adds that there’s still a lot of work to be done. (TSN, with more at The Athletic [sub required], also check LeBrun’s Twitter thread)

• LeBrun, Bob McKenzie, and others gave recent updates that don’t sound great for an early-June 2020 NHL Draft. There’s still a lot of “to be determined” to all of this, of course. (Various reports, including Thursday’s edition of TSN Insider Trading.)

• Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spoke with FAN 590’s Roger Lajoie about a number of topics on Sunday. In expressing excitement for the 2020 NHL Draft, Melnyk said fans should start seeing signs of a competitive team as early as the 2020-21 season. “Now’s the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.” (FAN 590/Ottawa Citizen)

• Speaking of drafts, David Staples painstakingly compared NHL experts vs. writers/pundits to see how well draft rankings pan out. Seems like it’s very close. If you’re even mildly interested to find out how accurate prognostications can be, this is worth a look. It might be even if you just want to kill some time. (Edmonton Journal)

• Chris Therien took the longform approach with his thoughts on how sports may change thanks to COVID-19. (Flyers)

Other hockey/NHL links (Fortnite fun included)

• Elliotte Friedman provides the lowdown on a class-action lawsuit being settled involving minimum wage in the CHL. (Sportsnet/CHL release)

• Looking back at how Dave Andrews helped to shape the AHL as we know it. (The Score)

• Really great look at Kings prospect Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who was raised by his two moms: Fran and Nancy. (Los Angeles Times)

J.T. Compher and Zach Hyman teamed up to create “The NHLPA featuring Fortnite.” More than 60 NHLPA members are participating in the event, which is scheduled to stream on Monday from 2-5 p.m. ET. They’re playing as trios in the battle royale video game, with a charity prize pool of $200K. Hyman will be commentating, while Compher is going to be building walls very quickly and what not with teammates Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Nieto. (More on the event at NHLPA.com/event is set to stream on Twitch)

• Emily Kaplan put together a brilliant “grudge report” list. Kaplan picks one thing that each of the NHL’s 31 fan bases can’t seem to let go. Good stuff. (ESPN)

• Wild defenseman Matt Dumba saw his 2018-19 season cut short when he got injured fighting Matthew Tkachuk. Dumba contemplates a season ending prematurely for the second year in a row. Also, big news: he has a new dog. (Pioneer Press)

[More: November PHT Q&A with Dumba, which included his thoughts on fighting.]

• Darren McCarty dished on feuding with Claude Lemieux, fuming at Mike Babcock (but picking up some coaching tips), on the “Locked on Wings” podcast. (Locked on Wings/The Detroit News)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

David Ayres helps Kidney Foundation of Canada promote emergency fund

David Ayres is experiencing more than 15 minutes of fame, and he’s using his time in the limelight to help a good cause. Ayres is teaming up with the Kidney Foundation of Canada to create an emergency fund.

As an added bonus, Ayres notes that June and Russ Jones of Ottawa will match donations up to $50K.

Ayres rose to fame as a 42-year-old Zamboni driver and emergency backup who helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. Things only took off from there.

The Hurricanes went on to sell David Ayres T-shirts. Upper Deck issued Ayres hockey cards, and the Hockey Hall of Fame even put his stick on display. Even the NHL loosened up about trying to prevent other emergency backup situations.

David Ayres explains his own experiences as a kidney transplant recipient

With all of that in mind, it’s fantastic that Ayres is giving back.

Here is part of Ayres’ message via the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s website:

As a kidney patient and transplant recipient, I know that coping with dialysis treatments and its effects are challenging in the best of times. Now that our world is turned upside down due to the pandemic, I’m jumping in to help with another emergency situation.

Patients are reaching out more than ever to access the Kidney Foundation programs and services they need to cope emotionally and financially.

This increased demand means there is an equally urgent need for the Foundation to have the resources available to provide this support.

I need your help to make sure kidney patients get the help they need.

Ayres expanded upon those experiences during an interview with Global News Radio 980 CFPL. He detailed daunting experiences of isolation, and the draining process of going through dialysis.

Ayres wants to raise money for others dealing with kidney issues. With so much attention understandably paid to dealing with COVID-19, Ayres wants to help draw attention to another worthy cause. After all, many aren’t as lucky as Ayres, who received help from family members.

“Dialysis takes a lot out of you,” Ayres said in that interview. “So to be able to try and even drive home afterwards… once I kind of got into mine a little more, I was able to do that, but at the beginning, you can’t.”

This was already a feel-good story. If Ayres can help raise money for those in need, it will get even better.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Panthers’ third jerseys meet their demise today for charity

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It’s the end of the run for the Florida Panthers. No, they’re not going anywhere other than perhaps the playoffs, but their blue third jerseys are being worn for the final time today against the Islanders.

As George Richards of On Frozen Pond hears from Panthers star forward Stephen Weiss, saying goodbye to the blue jerseys won’t be too difficult.

“We’ve been doing good in them, but I like the red ones better,” said Weiss, noting Florida has won the past three games in the third ‘Sunday-only’ jerseys and are 4-2-1 in them this season.

“They’re alright. But they aren’t the most intimidating things around. It is what it is. We wore them for a few years, now we’re moving on.”

It’s not all snark for what was ultimately a very ugly and pointless jersey, the Panthers are doing something good with them by conducting a silent auction during the game for the blue nightmares and giving the money to the Panther Foundation for pediatric cancer.

Giving up the shirts off your back for kids with cancer? That’ll play. If that doesn’t warm your heart, then we need to have a sit-down discussion about life.

Scott Hartnell falls down for charity, tells Phaneuf to “suck it”

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It’s possible you went into All-Star Weekend not caring much for Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. It’s even possible you disliked the guy a lot after seeing him beat your favorite team. One good way to win people over though is to do good things for those in need, and that’s just what he did during yesterday’s All-Star Game.

Hartnell has embraced a Twitter meme that counted up how many times he fell down during a game (#HartnellDown for those not in the Twitter world) and for yesterday’s game, Hartnell pledged $1000 for each time he went down.

The All-Star Game turned into a lucrative one for charity as he raised $4000 and Hartnell tells NHL.com’s Dave Lozo his teammates were more than eager to help him hit the ice.

“(Claude) Giroux was trying to trip me on the faceoffs,” Hartnell said. “He got me down during warmups once.”

It’s all fun and games during the All-Star Game, but doing little things like these as well as wearing a microphone during the game and giving Dion Phaneuf a piece of his mind will make Hartnell a cult hero in record time.