The calendar says March and the holidays are a distant memory for most
Canadians, but one Nova Scotia man got into the spirit of the season one
last time, with the help of a Team Canada alumnus.
Halifax native Joe Head was the winner of the Wrigley ‘Happy Hockeydays’
contest, which offered fans the chance to win a $2,000 Pro Hockey Life
shopping spree with 2014 Olympic gold medallist Martin St-Louis.
Head was gracious enough to donate his prize to Hockey Nova Scotia and its
‘Grow the Game’ initiatives, and joined St-Louis at the Pro Hockey Life at
Vaughan Mills on Feb. 27 to select helmets, neck guards, sticks, gloves,
pants, shoulder pads and more that will help get more kids on the ice and
into Canada’s game.
“All these young kids that can’t afford hockey equipment, we’re going to
get them some equipment to get started, to learn to skate and learn the
game,” Head said. “Those [players] are our future.”
“I think it’s tremendous,” St-Louis added. “Some of these kids may never
play hockey without acts of generosity like this – not just from Joe, but
from Hockey Canada as well – so it’s a great thing.”
‘Grow the Game’ puts the focus on six areas in Nova Scotia – new Canadians,
black youth, new female players, Aboriginal youth, special-needs players
and sledge hockey – offering half-day camps that lead into a 12-week
program to build not only hockey skills, but personal skills such as
leadership and respect.
Programs like this are essential to the continued growth of hockey, not
only in Nova Scotia but in thousands minor hockey associations in every
corner of the country, and to ensuring every Canadian can play.
“Youth hockey is what’s important,” St-Louis said. “I coach youth hockey,
and for me it’s all about the passion for the game, because it’s these kids
who are going to come up and keep the game going.”
St-Louis played 16 seasons in the NHL, winning a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay
in 2004. In addition to his 2014 gold, he also wore the red-and-white of
Team Canada at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 2006 Olympics, and the IIHF
World Championship in 2008 and 2009, winning a pair of silver medals.