Shaping hockey's future
The Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Program allows young hockey
players to learn their from some of the NHL's best.
NEW YORK, NY -- To the casual fan, the NHL Players Association is an
afterthought, and the work that goes into defending players' rights
gets washed over in the headlines. The name "NHLPA" is almost
synonymous with work stoppages, and ugly feuds, but for an unjust
While it is a labor union to protect the players' rights, it's not run
by a few Joe Hill like characters with the sole purpose of the
ugliness often associated with the term Union. The NHLPA has the
future of players, at every age in mind, and that is highlighted with
their fantastic work with young athletes at the NHLPA's Allstate
All-Canadians Mentorship Program.
The Program's sole purpose is to work with these young players, and
show them what it takes to make it at the NHL level. They will be
working with real Pros in real NHL drills to showcase their talents at
a very young age. The program consists of three regionally located,
mentorship camps for players aged 8-15. These programs will then
culminate in the Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Camp which will
highlight 42 of the top bantam aged players across the country in a
five-day, hard-working, high-octane camp run the NHLPA with the help
of 21-year veteran, Stanley Cup Champion, and player trainer
extraordinaire Gary Roberts, and a few NHL Players.
"Through Allstate All-Canadians, the NHLPA is committed to reaching
Canadian youth and giving them the skills to make them better
individuals, both in hockey and in life," explained Mike Ouellet,
NHLPA Chief of Business Affairs in a press release.
"The latest program enhancements like the regional mentorship camps,
the redesigned website, and tools to help manage school work and other
interests with hockey, will provide greater learning to players and
families across the country."
Once of the most unique aspects of the camp, is the strong focus on
life outside of hockey. Being a professional athlete is unlike any
other job, because it puts such a stringent emphasis on such a small
specific area of your life. It often forces people to put things like
family and school second, because it requires you to be so dedicated
to your craft.
New York Rangers goaltender, and seasoned veteran Martin Biron, who
will be an active participant in the camp for the second year in a
row, explained that, "You learn not only about hockey as a sacrifice,
but it combines that mental aspect with your family and friends."
He furthers the point by saying that, "combining hockey with school
takes the game to a whole new level."
The mentorship camps, which are open to boys and girls at any level,
rigorously emphasize basic areas of development like fitness,
nutrition, and mental skills, as well as showing young athletes how to
properly manage their time, and combine sports with school work and
other outside interests.
Biron is not the only NHL player lending his support of the program.
Jason Spezza, Luke Schenn, Jeff Skinner, Steve Stamkos and Stephen
Weiss will all be there to assist and guide these young competitors.
The camp will also feature the second annual Allstate All-Canadians
Mentorship Cup. Last year, Team Spezza won a thrilling shootout to
capture the championship, in a game involving two squads made up of
the 42 participants in the final camp. Rest assured, Spezza will be
back to defend his title this year.
As Biron pointed out, this program is, "much more than a hockey
school, it's a mentorship program."
The highlights from last year's camp for Biron, included teaching the
young net-minders in a real-life NHL practice environment, and showing
them many of the same drills he himself does.
"[We] had them look at what we do at a goalie practice at the NHL
level, doing the same drills I do with [Henrik Lundqvist] and Rangers
goaltender coach Benoit Allaire."
He also placed a big emphasis on all aspects of the program, and not
just the final camp with the older players.
"You're helping the whole hockey community... hopefully these kids can
continue through the program with us and ultimately come into the big
camp in Toronto as men and women."
Roberts, who is the program ambassador, and very actively involved in
the program knows that the NHLPA is doing a very important thing for
the kids at such a young age, giving them the skills they need to
succeed not only at hockey, but ultimately at life.
"Sharing my personal success story of the impact off-ice skills like
fitness and nutrition had on my career in the NHL with the kids
involved in the camp has been a rewarding experience, and I look
forward to passing along those messages to an even greater number of
Canadian minor hockey players," said Roberts in a press release. "I
know that by working with our youth at the grassroots level, they can
become confident individuals and further their athletic development."
Parents interested in getting their children, and they themselves
involved in the program should visit www.allcanadians.com to not only
sign their young developing athletes up, but also to use the many
resources they have available. The website contains content designed
not only for a player, but also for everyone involved in his or her
life. This is an incredibly valuable resource for any parent who has
little to no knowledge of the sport, and just another amazing thing
the NHLPA is doing for hockey players at all ages.
In an era where only the negative aspects of a lot of things are
highlighted, it should not go unnoticed the effort that the NHLPA is
putting into taking care of these young, potentially future stars.