One of the greatest things about the sport of hockey is that the passion we see on the ice can often be recognized in other elements of players’ lives. While it is important that players in the limelight can be seen as role models for the younger fans watching their games, there are a few who stand out for going above and beyond expectations.
They engage in acts of kindness that we don’t always notice or hear about. If you’re a Vancouver Canucks fan, you’re probably familiar with some of the amazing off-ice things that some of your favourite players — past and present — have organized or taken part in.
Get the Kleenex ready.
As if we needed another reason to love our two irreplaceable gingers. Daniel and Henrik Sedin proved once and for all that gingers do, in fact, have souls. All South Park references aside, these guys were special and always will be.
If the infamous Swedish twins hadn’t already cemented themselves as the two most memorable Canucks of all time with their ridiculous passing plays and unconquerable leadership, their combined $1.5 million donation to the B.C. Children’s Hospital surely did.
The donation, back in 2010, was intended to help build a new facility, specifically going towards a new intensive care unit and diagnostics and imaging area.
Originally from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, the Sedins said they made the donation because they wanted to give something back that would help children and families across the province —the province that they worked in and that their families called home.
The brothers, lovingly referred to by fans as “Hank and Danny,” were drafted by the Canucks second and third overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by then-general manager Brian Burke. The two combined for 2,111 points over their careers that spanned a combined 2,636 games. They were two-of-a-kind and were inarguably the heart and soul of the Vancouver hockey scene for nearly two decades before retiring in 2018.
Brock Boeser Returns (to Prom)
Brock Boeser spent the 2016-17 season with the University of North Dakota, where he recorded 34 points in 32 games. Boeser was 19 at the time and had been drafted the year prior, being selected by the Canucks, 23rd overall in the first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The now-22-year-old just concluded his second season with the Canucks, having played in 69 games during the 2018-19 NHL campaign. The Burnsville, Minnesota native posted similar numbers to his rookie season (29 goals and 26 assists) by scoring 26 goals and adding 30 assists for 56 points on the year.
Back in 2016, a young woman by the name of Baylee Bjorge reached out to the Canucks’ budding star via Instagram to invite him to her prom — as her date, of course. Boeser wasted no time in getting back Baylee, who was born with Down Syndrome. Boeser reached Baylee on the phone and accepted her offer.
Baylee’s mother couldn’t say enough good things about the collegiate hockey star, who did his best to make the entire prom night about her daughter, who was all smiles from the moment Boeser showed up to her house.
Despite being barraged with other fans seeking autographs, the stud winger managed to make Baylee feel important, and that’s something she won’t soon forget. Boeser still makes time for his friend every time he goes back to North Dakota and does so without any sort of self-promotion. Safe to say the Canucks have something special here.
Hughes’ Surprise at Fawkes Academy
Quinn Hughes is still a baby in the world of the NHL. At just 19 years old, the Orlando, Florida native still has a lot to learn about the league. One thing he already has a firm grasp on, however, is how to make a positive impact on someone’s day.
Despite only playing in five games for the Canucks at the tail end of the 2018-19 season, the young blueliner tallied three assists and looked dangerous with – and without – the puck. Drafted in the first round, seventh-overall at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Canucks, Hughes is widely regarded as the best defensive prospect the franchise has ever had.
Boasting smooth skating abilities, great puck-handling skills and high hockey I.Q, the former University of Michigan Wolverine has already cemented himself as a fan-favourite in Vancouver. Along with Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson and Boeser, Hughes is poised to be one of the faces of the franchise for years to come. We as fans cannot wait.
But Hughes’ lovability extends beyond his on-ice play. While he is definitely a fantastic hockey player, he has shown us early in his tenure with the Canucks that he is a great addition off the ice as well.
In July 2019, Hughes surprised a fan by the name of Jonathan Myskiw at his high-school graduation. Myskiw lives with autism and attends Fawkes Academy in the lower mainland area of British Columbia.
The institution that Jonathan attended was for boys and girls with developmental disabilities. The young man reached out to Hughes with a message detailing his impending graduation and Hughes knew he had to be there.
In an interview with CTV News Vancouver, Hughes said:
“I got a message from Jonathan saying that he was going to be the first person to graduate from his school and that he was the biggest Canucks fan. I could tell how much it meant to him, and for me, I think it’s important to try to do nice things and be a nice person and I feel like this was a good opportunity to try to do that.”source — CTV News Vancouver — 07/08/19
Hughes has already exemplified the giving mentality that was previously displayed Canucks like Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Brock Boeser. The Canucks’ organization has built a reputation for charity work and many players throughout the years have taken the time to stop by B.C. Children’s Hospital and spend time with the patients there.
One thing is for sure: Hughes is fitting in nicely — on and off the ice.
Shane Wilson is a staff writer from Richmond, British Columbia. The former executive editor for Australia-based news outlet Rock Nation covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers and hosts a monthly comedy show in Steveston, B.C.