NHL

The Staal brothers are coming together to support children and families fighting cancer

The Staal brothers are coming together to support children and families fighting cancer

The Staal brothers are coming together to support children and families fighting cancer

It was the 11th time the brothers from Thunder Bay, Ont., played in the same NHL game and the first since March 31, 2016, when Eric and Marc played for the New York Rangers against the Hurricanes. Wednesday was also Eric’s 1,300th NHL game.

“It’s funny how it works,” Eric Staal said Friday. “But it was a good time to have them both out there. We took a picture. I’m not big on that kind of thing, but I felt it was right.”

Eric, Jordan and younger brother Jared played two games together with the Hurricanes near the end of the 2012-13 season, but all four Staals have never been on the same NHL team. That hasn’t stopped them from working together for a cause that’s personal, a cause they’ll be reminded of when the Panthers host the Edmonton Oilers for their Hockey Fights Cancer night at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Fla., on Saturday (16 :00 hours). ET; SN, BSFL, ESPN+, SN NOW).

The brothers founded the Staal Family Foundation in 2012 and have raised nearly $5 million to support children battling cancer and their families. The inspiration came from the sister of Eric’s wife Tanya, Tamara Stephenson, who died in 2010 after a long battle with a rare form of liver cancer.

“We all watched her fight the disease as hard as she could for three years and it was heartbreaking to watch her go through it, but also inspiring,” Eric Staal said. “She was a very strong person and she had great faith and belief in what was next for her. So when that happened, we knew as a group, as a family, that we wanted to start something and try to do it. [an] impact somewhere and this is where the foundation was born.

“So we focused on kids and families dealing with the disease and were able to do a few different events to raise as much money and awareness as we can to try and give back as much as we can.”

Each year, the foundation donates to various childhood cancer charities in and around Thunder Bay.

The foundation has helped purchase equipment for the Cancer Center at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Center and for Camp Quality Northwestern Ontario, a camp where children with cancer and their siblings learn to turn challenges into adventures. Funds have also gone to the Smilezone Foundation, which transforms areas such as hospital waiting rooms and lobbies into fun ‘zones’ for children with toys and games, and the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre, an outpatient healthcare facility pediatric in Thunder Bay.

Before Christmas last year, the foundation donated $15,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society in Northwestern Ontario, and another $15,000 went to the Ronald McDonald House Toronto in April.

“We’re able to give away a pretty significant amount of money every year for the rest of our lives, really, and that’s something we were looking to do when we started.” Mark Steel said “Hopefully, we can continue to help people in our area in Thunder Bay and the whole Northwestern Ontario area get better care because it’s not very good. The need is there and we’re a small part of ‘try to do better. .”

Much of the funding comes from the Staal Foundation Open, a Mackenzie Tour-PGA Tour Canada event in Thunder Bay, which raised more than $1 million over its five-year run from 2014 to 2018. After the tournament ended in golf in 2018 and quiet summers due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Staals hope to host another fundraising event next summer. Reactivating the golf tournament is one of the options being considered.

“We’ve slowed down a bit with COVID, but we’ve talked about trying to get something going again,” he added. Jordan Steel said “We still contribute in different places every year, but we want to start putting our foot back in the door of putting on another fundraising event or something. But it’s been really rewarding and a lot of fun.

“It’s something that’s not just for us brothers, but for our families. In the future, it’s going to last a long time.”

Jordan, a 34-year-old forward who played his 1,100th NHL game on Oct. 29, continues to host children with cancer and their families in the Staal Family Foundation suite for every Hurricanes home game. Eric, a 38-year-old forward, started that tradition during his 12 seasons with Carolina and Jordan continued it after Eric was traded to join Marc in New York on February 28, 2016.

Carolina will celebrate its night of fighting cancer in hockey when the Colorado Avalanche visit on November 17th.

Eric and Marc reunited in Florida this season. Marc, a 35-year-old defenseman and 1,033-game NHL veteran, signed a one-year deal on July 13, and Eric turned a pro training camp tryout into a one-year deal on October 21

Jared, a 32-year-old retired forward, also joined the Panthers organization this season as an assistant with their American Hockey League affiliate in Charlotte. This meant that Eric, Marc and Jared were together at training camp, which left Jordan as the odd man out.

“Obviously, I had a great opportunity to play with Eric. I had a lot of fun,” Jordan Staal said. “I’m working on Marc. We’ll see if it works or not.”

Regardless, the Staals plan to continue working with the foundation and helping children with cancer and their families long after their playing days are over.

“We’re in the back half of our careers, but this will still be there and we’ll still be able to distribute funds and be able to help people who need it,” Eric Staal said. “That was the goal and we’ve gotten to this point, which is amazing, and we’re going to keep trying to add to it so we’re still here.”

Marc added: “I feel like it’s still in its infant stages. But there’s been a lot of joy for our family to be able to do it and be a part of it. It keeps us close and allows us to help our community, so we love it. do it.”





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