It is about a month and a half until the first day of the new NHL season, and like the fans, it appears that the players are getting a bit antsy. While the fans spend the offseason making and debating lists or ranking the teams based on the organization’s respective moves thus far, the players typically have a different schedule. There is the well-deserved vacation time with family and friends immediately after the season ends, and the training and workout camps before the new season begins, but many players spend the remaining offseason bringing attention to various charities. So when the Boston Bruins found out about a local man’s challenge for a good cause, it could only bring good results to the NHL.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” was started by Beverley, Massachusetts resident Peter Frates and his wife Julie in an effort to raise awareness about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly referred to as ALS. Peter was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and has spent much of his time since then working with the local ALS Association to educate the masses about the disease. His latest awareness movement has spread like wildfire, especially among NHL players, thanks in large part to the #IceBucketChallenge Twitter trend and the viral videos that accompany the challenge.
The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is simple. A person is challenged by another to dump a bucket of ice cold water on their head or donate $100 to the ALS charity of their choosing. Regardless of which option is taken, the participant then challenges three other people to do the same: Immerse themselves in ice-cold water or donate.
Given the competitive nature of NHL players, and natural inclination toward all things frozen, it should come as no surprise that the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has hit the league and its fans with full force. As of this writing, nearly every team in the league has at least one player who has participated in this challenge, with many teams boasting much more than that. After all, what good is having teammates if not to challenge them in contests for a good cause?
The entire Boston Bruins team, as well as many of its AHL affiliate players, have taken the challenge, and promptly challenged both the fans and players on other teams to perform the same. Captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and one of the faces of the league, Sidney Crosby, also accepted the challenge. Even former NHL player and current General Manager of the Carolina Hurricanes, Ron Francis, challenged his team, his staff, and the Hurricanes fanbase to take the plunge for ALS awareness in his video.
“This is a creative way to spread ALS awareness via social media and in communities nationwide,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We thank Pete Frates and his family for getting so many people involved in spreading the word about ALS.”
In an interview with WBZ NewsRadio 1030 on Friday, Newhouse stated that online donations to The ALS Association reached $168,000 in the first week of August alone. To compare, the organization raised $14,000 during the same time period last year. Newhouse stated that she has been in the industry for 38 years and can only describe what has happened thus far as “crazy.”
“Crazy” would be an appropriate term for many NHL players, who have taken to “one-upping” one another in the videos. The Edmonton Oilers’ captain, and former Boston Bruins defenseman, Andrew Ference was challenged by his former teammates to take the challenge. Not only did he dump a bucket of ice water on his head, but he followed it up with a snow-shower from a nearby Zamboni.
Hockey season is a little under two months away, but when it comes to competitions involving ice and snow, NHL players always appear to be up to the challenge.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner