I used to think firemen were the sexiest men on the planet. Well, that was before my area got an NHL team.
I’m often surprised by the lack of positive publicity this sport receives. I’ve written about it on my blog, so I won’t rehash my thoughts here. But, I want to add another element I didn’t mention before:
Hockey players are the sexiest men on the planet. I should probably qualify that with “my” definition of sexy: a man who is strong, brave and tough when needed, but soft, gentle, and caring all the other times. That is not just sexy, that’s intoxicating.
Last summer, when I was involved in my writer’s workshop, I had to write about someone or something in the community that was actively working towards change. I immediately thought of our local NHL team. Why? Because I know the back story of these guys. I know the team captain anonymously sends large sums of money to organizations–just because–and expects no press attention in return. Last year, he gave almost $150,000 of his own money for various causes in and around this area. And, by the way, he also visits sick children in the hospital on a regular basis.
The players make regular stops at schools and libraries to stress the benefits of education (something close to my heart, being a teacher). The team has built a safe playground for children, donating the supplies and man hours. The organization has re-opened one of the local after-school program buildings that had to shut down due to lack of public funds. Everything they do, they do because they want to, not because they are contractually obligated.
And the real tear-jerker…
The NHL’s motto is “Hockey Fights Cancer”. Last year, one of our local high school hockey players was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Upon hearing this, the team offered the young man a contract — a legit one — to become a “Blue Jacket” for a day. They even paid him a small salary ($1.00) and gave him an official team jersey with his name on the back. Team players would go to his house (or his hospital room) and sit by his side while they watched the other NHL teams play.
Unfortunately, Ryan succumbed to his cancer in May of this year. His last wish? To make it to at least one playoff game before he passed away. The team made sure he got his wish.
Last night’s game was our team’s chance to raise money to fight cancer. The team had this young man’s jersey displayed on the player’s bench, in tribute to his memory. When one of the players scored the first goal of last night’s game, his response to the interviewer went something like this “I just had a feeling I was going to score. I’m not a huge fan of a ‘higher power’, but I think Ryan had something to do with it…” Wow. Talk about a sense of humility and compassion.
So, I apologize to all the sexy, heroic firefighters out there who risk their lives every day to save the lives of others. You are still very much heroes in my eyes. But, in my opinion, you have some pretty stiff competition when it comes to the true definition of “sexy”.