NHL players on the importance of giving back

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*This article was published November 2018

NHLPA members Jake Gardiner (Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman) and Travis Hamonic (Calgary Flames defenceman) talk about the importance of giving back to the community.

For big-league hockey players, being a professional means being engaged on and off the ice while doing your best to make a difference at the rink and in your everyday life.

“When you are able to meet fans, or with people that work hard to make the community a better place, it’s very inspiring,” said Gardiner, who has played in over 500 NHL games.

Realizing the importance of helping others and playing their part to build a strong connection with the community has helped each player appreciate the positive impact a person can have through acts of kindness.

“The world we live in, not everyone is given the same opportunity,” said Hamonic, who received the 2016-17 NHL Foundation Player Award for his efforts in the community. “I do believe when you help out, it’s contagious. And that’s a great feeling.”

For Gardiner and Hamonic, having the opportunity to assist in their respective communities has been a game-changing experience. Here’s what the players have to say about making a difference:

  •  Do your part

“It’s honestly the best feeling,” said Hamonic. “In any walk of life, whether you’re doing charity work or helping someone on the street, if you can make someone smile, it’s the best feeling in the world.”

“It’s important to give back to your community and to make sure you do your part to help others,” offered Gardiner. “It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing, having that chance to meet some really amazing people.”

  •  Help others

“My mom always taught me to treat others the way you would like to be treated, and that’s always stayed with me,” said Gardiner. “I think that’s a good approach to life. I’ve always tried to live by those words.”

“Helping others, it puts a smile on your face,” noted Hamonic. “It’s been something I’m grateful for. The way my wife (Stephanie) and I were both raised — very similar families, in a small town, humble beginnings — we were taught the importance of getting out into the community and helping out. I think it’s super important. In our eyes, the world we want to live in is one that helps people.”

  •  Get involved

“Whether it’s in your school or helping out a friend or neighbour, it’s something that makes your community and world a better place,” said Gardiner. “It doesn’t matter if it’s something big or small, just remember what you do can make a huge difference in someone else’s life and in yours.”

“Even if you spend a little bit of time helping someone or your community, it can go a long way in making a huge difference in that person’s life,” noted Hamonic. “If you are passionate about a particular cause, try to find a way to get involved.”

We hope these NHL players’ words inspire you to do your part, help others and get involved. If you’re looking for ways to give back in your own community, you can learn more aboutsupporting youth mental health and well-being.

Kids Help Phone would like to thank Jake Gardiner, Travis Hamonic, the NHLPA and writer Chris Lomon for this story on Giving Tuesday 2018!