The Chicago Blackhawks and the rest of the NHL aren’t playing hockey right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the organization and the players are doing what they can to help out. They are in a unique position to use their platform for the greater good. Here are a few ways the Blackhawks are giving back and spreading positivity throughout the community.
United Center Transformed
The Blackhawks’ and Chicago Bulls’ organizations were one of the first in the sports industry to announce they would pay their United Center employees throughout the remainder of the regularly scheduled season despite the pause. It was a classy gesture of goodwill that eventually trickled down throughout most of the stadiums in the league. As stated in the release on Mar. 14.,
Our employees, whether they be front office staff, or our approximately 1,200 day-of-game staff, are family, and we will navigate this unprecedented situation together.
That navigation went a step further when the United Center was designated as an emergency relief hub to assist the Greater Chicago Food Depository. According to Ben Pope of the Chicago Sun-Times, nearly 775,000 pounds of non-perishable food items are being stored on what in normal times would be the playing surface for the Blackhawks and the Bulls.
This frees up more space at the food depository’s main warehouse for the employees to practice proper social distancing while putting together food boxes to distribute to the surrounding community. (from ‘United Center packed with 774,840 pounds of food destined for Chicago food pantrys’, The Chicago Sun-Times – 4/9/20)
While the Blackhawks’ front office is doing their part, several the players are reaching out as well. It’s appropriate that our favorite captain, Jonathan Toews, got things rolling. Via the Today Show, Toews learned seven-year-old Declan missed attending a game for his birthday because of the stoppage of play. Toews went on the air to promise this young fan a rain check.
There are so many health care professionals we love, and we have some #WithYouTODAY messages to share, including one from Sharon. She sent us a shoutout for her sister, who’s a nurse in Illinois. pic.twitter.com/aUeCaojoPK— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 26, 2020
But his real gift was to donate $100,000 to COVID-19 response efforts in Chicago through his personal foundation.
Players Preach “Stay at Home”
In the midst of the shelter in place recommendations, the Blackhawks’ stars took to Twitter to help reinforce this initiative to the public. Patrick Kane used the hashtag #AllInIllinois to send his message, and Toews chose #StayHomeSaveLives as his platform to urge fans to do their part.
If you’re looking for more humorous take on staying at home, check out Rockford IceHogs’ netminder Collin Delia’s advice. He gives us some step by step instructions on one way to stay busy indoors. And how can you resist that smile at the end?
Honoring Healthcare Workers
Several players are getting involved by giving shout outs to healthcare workers during these trying times. After all, the doctors and nurses caring for the victims of this disease are the real heroes these days. Connor Murphy saluted all healthcare professionals on World Health Day. Slater Koekkoek chose three specific nurses to thank in his tribute.
In the recent NBC Sports fundraiser special “Be Chicago, Together We Can”, Brent Seabrook went on the air with Eddie Olczyk and Pat Boyle to surprise Nurse Stefanie.
Thank you for everything you do to keep us safe, Stefanie!— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 30, 2020
Watch Brent Seabrook surprise this COVID-19 nurse (and HUGE #Blackhawks fan) and try not to smile. #BeChicago #OneCommunity pic.twitter.com/4l0bpJB45C
Yes, that is the Blackhawks’ blueliner, not just some bearded mountain man. He also claims his recovery from shoulder and two hip surgeries is coming along quite well.
Just recently, Toews took one of his jerseys and replaced his name on the back with that of Hayley Lesnik. She’s a front-line nurse that has battled her own case of coronavirus, and is donating her antibodies to help develop a treatment.
The Anthem Singer Gives a Special Performance
Blackhawks’ Jim Cornelison is touted as one of the best, if not the very best, anthem singers in NHL. Not only does he perform before every home game, but he makes numerous cameo appearances throughout the year, including for the Chicago Bears and Nascar racing.
But this performance on Easter for the staff at the Advocate Christ Medical Center was more special than most.
What an incredible salute by Cornelison. I’m sure it really lifted the spirits of all those professionals who are risking their own lives to help save the lives of others.
Blackhawks Donate Sanitation Machines
In response to the pandemic General Motors should be applauded for re-opened an inactive facility in Michigan to produce face masks. But they needed some help in the disinfectant area. Enter the hockey community.
Hockey teams have sanitizing devices to kill the bacteria and the smells from all the hockey equipment. General Motors first contacted to the Ilitch family, who owns the Detroit Red Wings. Unfortunately, the Red Wings sanitizing devices are built into the HVAC system in the brand-new Little Caesar’s Arena. But Paul Boyer, the head equipment manager for the team, reached out to a number of other franchises for help.
The Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers were the first and closest teams to respond by sending their sanitizing machines to help with the project. No questions asked, and rivalries be damned.
This coronavirus situation certainly isn’t where any of us want to be. But the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the players are doing what they can to make a bleak scenario more positive. Let’s all hope we can put this behind us sooner rather than later and get back out on the ice.