Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal skated with the Capital City Crew Tuesday night at the RBC. "The Crew" is a group consisting of 32 underprivileged kids from Boys and Girls Clubs located all over Wake County. Formed through a partnership among the Carolina Hurricanes, Raleigh Youth Hockey Association, the Boys and Girls Club of Wake Country, and the National Hockey League, the program consists of on ice practices, off ice training, and life skills sessions.
The Crew is the first NHL "Hockey is for Everyone" team in the South and is very similar to other programs established in Pittsburgh, Boston, Minneapolis, and Newark. Staal donated 20 full sets of equipment to the club in association with partner Nike/Bauer. The NHLPA also contributed a $10,000 grant to the program through it's Goals and Dreams Foundation.
The participating kids named the team themselves and most of them had never skated before joining the program. Now they can skate, shoot, pass, and enjoy scrimmaging each other. Staal looked at the kid's team as a great opportunity for him to give back to the community. He related to the need for new equipment because his younger brothers usually got his used stuff as hand-me-downs.
The most important thing? The kids are having fun, as you can see in the video after the jump when they mug Staal as he leaves the ice at the end of practice.
In related news, the Carolina Hurricanes Kids 'N Community Foundation is set to donate $279,800 to 22 local charitable organizations. The fall grant cycle is the first of two grant cycles for the 2009-10 season. The generous donation amount is attributable to the tremendous support from the Carolina Hurricanes fans, players, and management through year long fundraising efforts at various events and auctions.
This is just one of the countless positive aspects of having an NHL team in the area. For more information about how the team benefits the community, check out this article written in the summer of 2008.