A new craze is sweeping the NHL. It's not hockey fights, memorabilia, or a new kind of endorsement. It's puppies! The "Puppy Challenge" certainly has tongues - and tails - wagging. In January, Cole Jansen went watch his Ottawa Senators play the New York Rangers. The game had special meaning for him; if Bobby Ryan scored a goal, his parents agreed to get a dog for him and his brother. He decided to take a proactive approach, holding up a sign that read, "Bobby, Dad said if you score we get a puppy!" With 20 seconds left in the second period, Bobby Ryan granted his wish. His parents kept up their end of the deal, and the family brought home a pomsky, appropriately named Bobby. Ryan, pleased to be able to score the puppy for Cole and his brother, arranged to meet them, and his namesake, for some one-on-one time at the rink! Check out the adorable video here: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/gotta-see-it-bobby-ryan-meets-puppy-he-won-for-kids/
Also in January, Maddie Wright made a similar deal with her parents, and took the same approach. On her birthday, she attended a Blue Jackets game, holding a sign that said "Dad says if 13 scores on my Birthday we get a dog.” Number 13 is Cam Atkinson, who was happy to oblige. He didn't just score one goal, he got a hat trick! Soon after, the family welcomed their newest addition into their home, a female black lab mix, a rescue dog from the Delaware County Humane Society, fittingly named Cam. Since the NHL star is a dog lover himself, he invited the family, dog included, to the rink so he could meet them. Both the family and the hockey player enjoyed a day of spending time together, and getting a behind-the-scenes tour of an NHL hockey arena.
This displays the sport of professional hockey at its finest. It may not be as glamorous as football or baseball, but it is just as thrilling, and its players continuously display a willingness to interact with the fans on a personal level. It is so refreshing, in this day and age, where everyone seems to be rushing around, that NHL hockey players would go to such lengths to bring happiness to even the youngest of their fans. Taking the extra time to meet the families is truly special, and sets a great example. We all know professional athletes don't always act as such. Through their actions, these hockey players teach what it means to have heart. It's not just about money or wins to them (and the NHL); it's about the fans, too. That's a huge score in our book. Meanwhile, the Puppy Challenge is far from over. It appears as though NHL players will continue to score goals and melt hearts, and we look forward to many more heartwarming "tails"!