CBC is upping the ante with Kraft Hockeyville this year, by bringing in five NHL stars to help promote the annual event that helps Canadians brush up on their geography. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Scott Hartnell, Nathan MacKinnon, David Clarkson, and Daniel Briere will each be representing a region of Canada, and helping to bring Hockeyville to one lucky community.
While most of the world prefers their football (both kinds) or even cricket, Canada is one of the few to pledge allegiance to the ice. Unfortunately, hockey is also expensive. Besides the equipment and the litany of ever breaking sticks and outgrown skates, hockey rinks don’t come cheap. It may not be a problem here in the Lower Mainland, where rinks tend to be plentiful, but small communities across the country can’t afford upgrades to keep their rinks in working order. Enter Hockeyville.
Every year CBC and an ounce of corporate sponsorship puts these communities in the spotlight, pitting 16 of them against each other in a national competition to win fame, glory, thousands of dollars in rink upgrades, and even the honour of hosting an NHL pre-season game.
In advance of the February application deadline, CHB spoke to Ryan Nugent Hopkins about his role in Hockeyville. And no, we didn’t ask him about which draft pick the Oilers will be aiming for this year.
If you’re unaware, The Nuge grew up in Burnaby, and he’s well aware of the importance of community in a kids hockey life.
“It gives a lot of kids opportunities, no matter where you are around Vancouver, there’s always a rink around, so it’s great. Most cities and towns have rinks, so you always have a chance to get on the ice.”
Nugent-Hopkins played all of his minor hockey with the Burnaby Winter Club, the team that also provided him with his proudest moment as a kid, when his Bantam team won a Western Canadian Championship in Winnipeg. “As kids, it’s as big as you can get.”
Of course, parents play a serious role in any kids hockey dream, even if they never play past Bantam. Believe it or not kids, your parents would probably prefer not to be up at 6am every Saturday.
“They’re everything, for me and every other kid,” said Nugent-Hopkins. “If you don’t have a parent driving you to and from practice and games you’re not going to succeed. You owe them so much. You don’t realize how big of a deal it is until you get older, it really does make a difference.”
All of these community memories helped fuel his excitement to support Hockeyville.
“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “Growing up playing at the Burnaby Winter Club, where I played all my minor hockey did wonders for me, hockey-wise, and as a person.”
Unfortunately, as of now there’s no competition set up between the regional ambassadors. Personally, I think it’s a lost opportunity for someone to end up doing something embarrassing with some Kraft Dinner, but that’s just me.
You still have time to sign up your community, or just follow along with this years competition.