Friday, 6 January 2017

Truly Canadian, Eh?

Hockey Blog In Canada rarely writes about other sports for the simple reason that this is a hockey blog. There are even less Venezuelan references on this site with the lack of hockey played in that country, but Blue Jays outfielder Ezequiel Carrera will change those numbers. When Canada's lone major league baseball team gets some support from a Western Hockey League team, however, I feel it's something about which I should write. There were a ton of things I considered writing about on this Friday, but two Canadian sports institutions came together and overruled all other stories. Today, the WHL's Regina Pats came together with MLB's Toronto Blue Jays for an excellent cause, and that's something we can all get behind.

Normally, I'm 100% against hockey teams representing other sports franchises because they are their own brand. They should not be supporting another team's brand unless there is a significant reason to do so. The Regina Pats are the highest level of hockey in Saskatchewan's largest city, so it's hard to understand why, at first glance, they would promote a professional baseball team hundreds of miles away.

In their release about the promotion, the Pats made sure to highlight that "Canada's oldest junior hockey team" was joining forces with Canada's only major professional baseball team, and the jerseys came with the Blue Jays' approval in their final design. I can honestly say that I wasn't holding out hope that this merger between two sports was anything more than a "sell tickets" idea.

Instead, the Blue Jays came through in a way most franchises do not. Outfielder Ezequiel Carrera braved a frigid prairie night to come out to the Brandt Centre to drop the puck in the ceremonial face-off! I'd normally expect to see someone who may have a better sense of just how cold Saskatchewan nights are, but he answered questions about the weather like a trooper! Through an interpreter, he stated while smiling, "It is very cold and besides I am coming from a place that is pretty hot, but I am enjoying the weather." Jokes aside about the weather, Carrera told reporters that he knew very little about hockey, but he did enjoy watching hockey fights when they happened. Sounds to me like he's a good ol' Canadian boy already!

The Regina Pats looked like Blue Jays on the ice in their uniforms.
They also did the job on a night with Carrera in the crowd as they downed the Hitmen by a 6-2 score to continue their dominance in the WHL. This win extended their win-streak to four games, and they still have not lost in regulation time this season on home ice. They stand at 27-3-7 on the season as the best team in the league, and they certainly handled 20th-overall Hitmen with ease.

At this point, you might saying to yourself, "Teebz, I thought you said this promotional jersey night was different." The Pats are auctioning off their Blue Jays jerseys to help raise funds for the Jays Care Foundation. The Jays Care Foundation will, in turn, "use funds raised through the auction to create opportunities for at-risk children and youth across the country," according to Andrew Miller, Executive Vice President, Business Operations, Toronto Blue Jays.

That, readers, is an excellent cause, and one I can support despite my apprehensions about cross-sport promotions. At-risk youth certainly need a little help when it comes to their situations and lives, and to see the Pats and Blue Jays helping this segment of the population find a better way to use their time and energy is a great initiative. While I would like to see these funds used in Regina and Saskatchewan for local initiatives, helping kids anywhere across this country is a solid investment in the future.

Some went home with these promotional jerseys. More went home with autographs from Ezequiel Carrera. Everyone but the Hitmen left the rink with a win. In the end, though, many more kids will win thanks to the money raised by the Regina Pats and Toronto Blue Jays. While cross-sport promotions are entirely negative in my books, helping others is a major positive. Because of this, these jerseys score well with me, and the money raised is going to a very good organization who does an amazing job helping others.

That's truly Canadian, eh?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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