The Buffalo Sabres will host “Hockey is for Everyone” Night tonight, when the Carolina Hurricanes roll into town for a 7 p.m. puck drop. The day will kick off a series of activities designed to promote inclusion and acceptance and recognize the value of diversity.
Here’s the scoop on the activities that the Buffalo Sabres - and the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts - have planned, for Thursday and beyond:
Before puck drop, Buffalo Sabres alumni Cody McCormick and Buffalo Beauts forward Kelly Babstock will host a hockey clinic for the Cattaraugus Community Center at the Cazenovia Ice Rink. McCormick is also head coach and general manager of the Beauts. Both he and Babstock have worked to promote the game of hockey to Native American and First Peoples groups in the Buffalo area and in parts of Canada.
Buffalo Sabres players will use Pride Tape on their sticks during pre-game warmups, an effort in conjunction with the You Can Play Project. The sticks will then be auctioned off, with benefits going to The Pride Center of Western New York and Gay and Lesbian Services of Western New York. Both of those organizations will also have informational tables on the 100 level during Thursday’s game.
In addition, there will be Sabres pride-themed t-shirts available for purchase at the Sabres Store on Thursday evening.
A number of groups will be in attendance Thursday, including the Leonardo Da Vinci High School Gay-Straight Alliance, Hasek’s Heroes, Buffalo Sabres Thunder Special Hockey Team, SABAH, and the Buffalo Sabres Warriors Sled and Stand-Up Hockey Teams.
Sabres alumni Val James, who was the first African-American to play in the NHL, will also be in attendance. He’ll be joined by the Emerging Philanthropists of Color, in conjunction with celebrating Black History Month.
Earlier this month, the Sabres named defenseman Zach Bogosian as the team’s Hockey is for Everyone ambassador.
It’s all part of the NHL’s annual Hockey is for Everyone month, celebrated each February. The month promotes “the inclusion of players, coaches and fans of every race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and those with disabilities.”
The Sabres & Beauts organizations aren’t stopping after Thursday’s game, however. Beauts defender Blake Bolden, who was the first African-American player in the NWHL, will be joined by the Young Philanthropists group from the Communities of Giving Legacy at the Sabres game on February 15. The group will then attend the Beauts’ home game on February 23 - their final home game of the regular season.
In addition, the Sabres are working with local organizations including the aforementioned Hasek’s Heroes, Buffalo Sabres Thunder Special Hockey Team, SABAH, and the Buffalo Sabres Warriors Sled and Stand-Up Hockey Teams to host clinics, practices and open skates.
On a league level, the NHL recently unveiled a mobile museum, the Black Hockey History Tour, featuring photos, artifacts & historical documentations. It’s making several stops throughout the month, including Nashville, Tampa, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, but is not scheduled to stop in Buffalo at this point.