Hockey Fights Cancer: A Good Fight for the NHL

While the debate rages on whether or not fighting should be allowed in the NHL, one league-wide fight goes unopposed. I am speaking of course about the NHL’s annual Hockey Fights Cancer initiative that has been held every year since 1998 in October to raise money and awareness for a cause that affects about half of all men and a third of all women in their lifetimes, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). October is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Hockey Fights Cancer is a joint initiative by the National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association. It is also supported by the National Hockey League Officials’ Association, the league’s trainers’ association and other various media and business partners.

Last October the NHL raised $1.1 million through their efforts, bringing their all-time total to over $12 million raised through the

Alex Goligoski, then of the Pittsburgh Penguins, wears a Hockey Fights Cancer sticker on his helmet during a game on October 18, 2010.

Hockey Fights Cancer program, according to the league. Proceeds go to various local and national cancer research foundations, children’s hospitals, player charities and local cancer organizations.

Throughout October, NHL teams hold various cancer awareness events during homes games to generate funds. Money is raised through a variety of efforts, such as auctions, raffles, specialty merchandise sales or by even collecting donations via text messaging. One popular auction took place in 2007 when a Sidney Crosby all-star jersey was sold for $47,520. Overall funds raised from that jersey auction raised over $140,000, according to the NHL.

Penguins’ head coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coach Tom Fitzgerald wear purple Hockey Fights Cancer ties in support of the program during a game on October 18, 2010 (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Last year more than 400,000 fans attended Hockey Fights Cancer events hosted by their NHL clubs, according to the league’s website. Also, 13 million fans tuned-in to watch games featuring Hockey Fights Cancer nights.

Hockey Fights Cancer coincides with the NFL’s initiative of supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Watching any NFL game in October, it is hard to miss their “support” as players wear pink gloves, helmet decals, mouth guards, chin straps, cleats, towels, sideline caps and captain patches. There are also pink goal post pads, cheerleader outfits and pink ribbon logos on the field.

The NHL is a little more subtle than its bigger competitor, with players simply wearing Hockey Fights Cancer stickers on their helmets and arenas featuring HFC logos on the ice and boards. Coaches also get in on the action by wearing special purple ties.

Purple is the primary color for Hockey Fights Cancer, due to it’s representation of pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest types of the disesase.

Hockey Fights Cancer charitable partners for the 2011-2012 season include: The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Prostate Cancer Canada, ZERO-The Project to End Prostate Cancer and The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

According to the ACS, there are about 11.7 million living Americans today who either have had cancer or are currently battling the disease. This number doesn’t include the millions of Canadians who are dealing with the same predicament. Chances are you either have, have had, or know someone who has/has had cancer.