TORONTO, Ont. – RBC today announced the launch of its RBC Play Hockey program, a wide-ranging, multi-year commitment that will impact hockey in communities across North America. Through a $1 million grant program and a team of RBC Play Hockey Ambassadors, which includes Steve Yzerman, Steven Stamkos and P.K. Subban, who will share their passion and excitement for the game, RBC Play Hockey will focus on growing the game from the grassroots level.
“RBC Play Hockey enables us to reach more people, more communities and more volunteers than ever before to encourage hockey at all levels,” said Gord Nixon, president and CEO of RBC. “From ponds to podiums, RBC is proud to support the hard work and dedication that helps hockey happen.”
Partnering with Hockey Canada for over than 15 years, RBC has been involved in hockey at both the community and national level for decades. Following the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the World Hockey Summit earlier this year, RBC recognized the role that hockey plays in the lives of Canadians. And that by leveraging its sponsorship activities, providing financial support, and recruiting hockey superstars to offer inspiration and guidance, RBC could make a real difference in communities across the country.
“RBC knows and understands the impact and importance of our national game," said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. "The RBC Play Hockey program will help acknowledge the efforts of the unsung heroes who make hockey happen in big cities and small towns all across the country.”
RBC PLAY HOCKEY GRANTS
Over the past seven years, RBC has awarded more than $700,000 to grassroots hockey activities across Canada. To expand on this tradition, RBC Play Hockey will award $1,000,000 in grants over the next year, to shine the spotlight on the people and programs that help hockey happen in communities across North America.
“Without skates to tie, volunteers to teach, coaches to inspire and ice to skate on the game of hockey simply would not happen,” added Little. “Hockey is bigger than any person or business. It is something that ties communities together and through RBC Play Hockey, we will fund projects that keep hockey growing and vibrant.”
To celebrate today’s announcement, RBC has made donations to three grassroots hockey projects. In Edmonton, a $25,000 grant was awarded for a girls’ hockey festival that will offer skills development and encourage more participation in the sport. In Toronto, Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Centre received a $25,000 grant for learn to skate and ball hockey programs that encourage new Canadians, ages five to 18, to develop their hockey skills. In Montreal, RBC has donated $25,000 for a new hockey equipment loan program for inner-city arenas.
RBC Play Hockey grant applications will be accepted at www.rbcplayhockey.com beginning on . All applications will be reviewed by a panel of hockey experts and successful applicants will be awarded an RBC Play Hockey grant of up to $25,000.
RBC PLAY HOCKEY AMBASSADORS
Past and present hockey stars have been recruited as ambassadors for the RBC Play Hockey program to share their passion and offer support to the countless volunteers engaged in growing the game. These hockey heroes will also help with a range of grassroots initiatives that will include opportunities for young and old, male and female, stand-up and sledge players.
“For many people across North America, cost, access and hesitation in getting started are all elements affecting hockey that we will address as RBC Play Hockey ambassadors,” said Steve Yzerman. “I am proud to partner with RBC and thrilled at the opportunity to bring this program to life.”
RBC Play Hockey ambassadors will visit schools, community centres, arenas and other locations to encourage Canadians and Americans to take up the sport. RBC becomes the official banking and financial services partner for each athlete. All players will act as hockey ambassadors and be featured in RBC marketing and advertising planned for U.S. and Canadian markets.
The RBC Play Hockey ambassadors are:
Steve Yzerman – General manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Yzerman spent his entire 22-year NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings. As captain for two decades, he led the team to three Stanley Cups and won numerous awards including the Conn Smythe and Frank J. Selke trophies and a gold medal with Canada at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He was also the executive director of the gold medal-winning Canadian men’s hockey team at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
Steven Stamkos – Currently playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Stamkos is emerging as one of the top young stars in the NHL. Picked first overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, he won a gold medal with Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship, represented Canada at the 20 IIHF World Championships and was a co-recipient of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer in 2009-10.
P.K. Subban – Currently a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, Subban is a two-time gold medallist with Canada’s National Junior Team at the IIHF World Junior Championship (2008, 2009), and was selected to the Media All-Star Team at the 2009 event.
Brian Leetch – Considered to be one of the top defensemen in NHL history, Leetch was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 after playing 18 seasons with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins. Career highlights include winning the Norris Trophy twice (1992, 1997), being the first and only American-born player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1994), and winning a silver medal at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Carla MacLeod – Recently retired after six years with Canada’s National Women’s Team, MacLeod was a two-time Olympic gold medallist (2006, 2010) and took home four medals from the IIHF World Women’s Championship, winning gold in 2007 and silver in 2005, 20. Although her on-ice career has come to an end, she will continue to be actively involved in her sport through coaching and on-air commentary.
Jennifer Botterill – The youngest member of Canada’s National Women’s Team at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, Botterill is a three-time Olympic gold medallist, standing atop the podium in 2002, 20. She is also a five-time world champion and is the only two-time winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top women’s player in NCAA hockey.
Jayna Hefford – A four-time Olympic medallist, Hefford added 2010 gold to gold medals from 20 and silver from 1998. She is a six-time world champion, and is the third-highest scoring player in the history of Canada’s National Women’s Team.
Caroline Ouellette – A 12-year veteran of Canada’s National Women’s Team, Ouellette is a three-time Olympic gold medallist (2002, 2006, 2010) and five-time world champion (1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007).
Meaghan Mikkelson – Entering her fourth season with Canada’s National Women’s Team, Mikkelson earned her first international gold medal at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, and hopes to add a world championship to her résumé next April in Switzerland.
Greg Westlake – The captain of Canada’s National Sledge Team, Westlake has been an offensive star since making the move to forward prior to the 2005-06 season. He sits third all-time in national team scoring, and has helped Canada to gold medals at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games and 2008 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship.
Benoit St-Amand – A six-year veteran of Canada’s National Sledge Team, St-Amand has put together an impressive 26-1-1 record and helped Canada to gold medals at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games and 2008 IPC Sledge Hockey World Championship.
For more information about the RBC Play Hockey, the grants program and the ambassadors, please visit www.rbcplayhockey.com.
RBC is committed to helping hockey happen in communities across North America. As a premier partner of Hockey Canada, RBC is the official sponsor of the national men’s and women’s hockey teams, the National Junior A Championship – the RBC Cup – and the Hockey Hall of Fame. RBC sponsors amateur sport in communities across North America, from grassroots programs to national sport associations and elite-level athletes.
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