As another season of street hockey comes upon us at MTRS, Vinny and I get ready to head to the Prudential Center tomorrow morning to pick up the equipment graciously supplied to our league, at no charge, from the New Jersey Devils and their street hockey community program. Of course, everyone knows I am a Rangers fan, but I must tip my cap to the Devils for allowing our league, and many like it, to be possible. Over the last year (we began in the spring, and will be starting our third season in the next few weeks), the Devils have given us hundreds of hockey sticks, full sets of goalie equipment, nets, and countless boxes of pucks. The reason why this is so important is because getting this equipment allows us to not charge a registration fee to the some 50 players who will be playing in the spring, a projected number up from our previous spring and fall seasons. It is worthy to note that more than a quarter of the entire school is involved in hockey somehow, whether it be through this league or the weekend clinics we offer.
The free admission is what really makes the league attractive to the prospective players and their parents, because many have never played before, and as you very well know, the cost of ice and roller leagues, both in rink time and equipment purchases, can cost a lot of money. This program allows players to give it a try for the first time, with the hopes that they will learn, have fun, and perhaps even move on to a different type of hockey later on. It also serves as a way for current players to keep their skills sharp, as we play anywhere between eight and twelve regular season games over the course of a month, with weekly practices and playoffs at the end for a day or two.
The Devils have also sent us former players Grant Marshall and Jim Dowd, who have come for special hockey events at the school. Along with the team’s mascot, the two have come to speak to our players, sign autographs, and shoot some pucks with the kids. Dowd was even on hand for our fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Irene last fall, when we raised $2000 for the American Red Cross.
So, to wrap things up, as much as we coaches like winning (and the adrenaline rush of standing on the sidelines yelling for three hours), the bottom line is that the players learn and have fun, and most importantly, want to come back for another season. The Devils have made this possible for all of us, and I just wanted to thank them for it. And yes, the ONLY time in my life I wear a Devils logo is when I wear our specially made coaching shirts. I don’t know if I have ever posted what is written on the back of them before, so here it is: