As hockey season nears the midseason mark and the holidays approach, it’s a great time for the NHL and Washingtonians alike to focus not only on points and team standings, but also on the charitable endeavors undertaken by its players. Year-round, the Washington Capitals are involved in foundations and youth-based programs structured to benefit those who may be less fortunate.
“As Minnesota residents and an active duty family in the Army for the last 10-plus years, we are so thankful to be supported by such an organization! Kindergarten-aged Connor is discovering his love and devotion to hockey and we cannot get him off the ice.”
This testimonial was posted on the Facebook page of the organization formerly known as Defending the Blue Line, a nonprofit started in 2008 by professional hockey player Brent Burns and Shane Hudella, a former full-time member of the military. The Caps are very involved in the foundation, particularly defensemen Karl Alzner, Brooks Orpik and Nate Schmidt.
The mission of the United Heroes League, which Defending the Blue Line is now called, is to ensure that children of members of the military are afforded every opportunity possible to participate in the sport of his or her dreams. This is accomplished by providing free equipment, instructional camps and financial assistance for hockey and other sports. The Caps have provided families with tickets to 20 home games a season, and take time afterward to meet and greet with them.
In addition, Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby have their own player program, So Kids Can, in tandem with Elliot Segal of the Elliot in the Morning show, which is broadcast on DC101. The players donate $50 per win during the regular season and $100 during the playoffs to a local youth-focused nonprofit. Together, they select the nonprofit at the beginning of the season and pay a visit with the monetary donation at the end, where they also spend time with the children.
Coach Barry Trotz was very involved in the Nashville community when he coached the Predators, and he’s brought that philanthropic attitude to DC as well. The coach is a huge supporter of the Best Buddies Capital Region chapter, which offers one-to-one friendship, integrated employment and leadership development programs. Nearly 29,000 youths with disabilities are assisted by the programs through organized events like walks, dances and golf tournaments.
Team captain Alex Ovechkin is also very active in the community through his Ovi’s Crazy 8s program, which he founded in 2006 to give underserved children, recuperating injured soldiers, and active military and their families the chance to attend a Caps home game at the Verizon Center.
With the Caps again looking like one of the best teams in hockey, the families that get to see the games are bound to have an enjoyable evening. And the players’ charitable involvements away from the rink only magnify this team’s likability.
Learn more about the Caps’ philanthropic endeavors and how to get involved:
Best Buddies Capital Region
Ovi’s Crazy 8s
United Heroes League