Wednesday, 29 July 2020

A Community League

While it's normally the NHL that receives all the praise for the individual work done in the communities in which they play, it should be noted that the AHL's contributions to their own communities shouldn't be overlooked. While most AHL clubs rely on their NHL affiliate for funding and support, the AHL franchises haven't forgotten that their league is mostly a ticket-based revenue league and that community involvement is vitally important at that level. In saying that, the AHL has released its information on its charitable work for the 2019-20 season, and it should bring smiles to many faces.

The league announced on Tuesday that the AHL and its 31 franchises had collectively raised $4.8 million for charities and relief efforts across North America in 2019-20. That's no small amount of money considering that some of the AHL teams have razor-thin budgets when it comes to raising extra money, but it's still a significant chunk of money heading to a variety of causes in communities across this continent.

Some of the charities to receive these funds include American and Canadian Cancer Societies, Special Olympics, the You Can Play Project, and Ronald McDonald House Charities. All of the charities listed on the linked page above, however, do amazing work in their communities, and this infusion of cash from the AHL only will help these organizations do more to help people everywhere.

While monetary donations are always more difficult for the AHL, the one thing that isn't hard is the ability to bring smiles to people's faces. The AHL has continued its long traditions of going out into the community as well, and they had over 1300 player and coach visits and more than 2000 mascot appearances at schools, hospitals, libraries, and other events over the course of the year to reinforce their efforts in building strong communities. Add in more than 115,000 ticket giveaways by the league and all the clubs, and there was a lot of smiling faces in the crowds across AHL rinks who, for one night, got to see their heroes a little closer and in action.

The other thing the AHL clubs do well is organizing charitable givings by their fans with food, coats, holiday gifts, teddy bears, and hockey equipment being collected throughout the league to be turned over to community groups for distribution within the AHL communities. What seem like small efforts by the AHL franchises can be life-changing events for people when you consider that a warm winter coat can change an entire person's life, and I'm hopeful that we see more of these types of events more often so that the AHL continues to be a leader when it comes to being good community partners.

Now you might be saying, "Teebz, you're just doing their marketing for them," and I admit that I would shrug my shoulders and agree. It is marketing for the AHL, but I feel the need to point out that not all donations have to be cheques for millions of dollars. Coats for people, toys for kids, food for food banks, and hockey equipment for minor hockey players are expenses that can be offset by AHL teams so that parents and guardians can re-appropriate money in their budgets for more important things. While the NHL clubs boast hundreds of millions in revenue each year, AHL clubs do not, so pointing out how vital they are in with these smaller donations they make is important for those communities in which they're helping.

I'm a big fan of talking about teams helping fans. The cost of hockey - tickets, equipment, fees, everything - has never once gotten lower for families who love the game, so talking about hockey teams helping their communities is something I will do every day of the week when given the chance. This charitable work goes way farther than you might imagine, and that's the kind of community impact that a hockey club should have.

Keep up the great work, AHL. You're doing it right.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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