THUNDER BAY – 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, 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 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 million 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 Nixon. “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, age six 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 December 26, 2010. 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 look forward to working with them 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, Steve spent his entire 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 the Canadian Men’s Olympic Hockey Team at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Steve 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, Steven is emerging as one of the NHL’s Top Stars. Picked first overall in the 2008 NHL entry draft, he has won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championship, was named to Team Canada’s roster for the 2009 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships and was the co-recipient of the NHL’s 2009-10 Rocket Richard Trophy.
P.K. Subban – Currently a defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, P.K. Subban is a two-time gold medal winner with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships (2008, 2009). In 2009, Subban was selected to the Tournament All-Star Team.
Brian Leetch – Considered to be one of the top defensemen in NHL history, Brian 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, and winning a Silver Medal at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
Carla MacLeod – After six seasons on the Canadian National Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Carla’s career has been filled with many highlights including gold medals at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games, four World Championships and taking home a gold medal in 2007 and three silver medals. Recently retired, she will continue to be actively involved in her sport through coaching and on-air commentary.
Jennifer Botterill – The youngest member of the 1998 Canadian Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Jennifer has won gold at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games. A five-time World Champion, and a two-time winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award as the top player in NCAA women’s ice hockey, she is also a Harvard graduate.
Jayna Hefford – A four-time Olympic medalist, Jayna has won silver at the Nagano 1998 Olympic Winter Games, gold from the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Winter Games, gold at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, and gold at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She has also won six World Championships during her 12 years on Canada’s National Women’s Ice Hockey team.
Caroline Ouellette – After 12 years on the Canadian National Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Caroline has had successful career, including gold medals at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympic Games and placing first at five World Championships.
Meagan Mikkelson – In her fourth season with the National Women’s Ice Hockey Team, Meagan is coming off of a gold medal victory at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. She hopes to represent Canada at the 2011 IIHF Women’s World Championships, and win her second gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Greg Westlake – An offensive star for Canada’s National Sledge Team, Greg’s playing career has been filled with highlights, including a gold medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games, awarded MVP for the 2007 season and placing first at the 2008 World Championships. Greg has been named team captain for the 2010/2011 season.
Benoit St-Amand – During his six years on the Canadian National Sledge Hockey Team, Benoit has won a gold medal at the 2006 Paralympic Winter Games, placed first at the World Championship in 2008 and finished fourth at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
For more information about the RBC Play Hockey, the grants program and the ambassadors, please visit www.rbcplayhockey.com.