The NHL and NHLPA Announce The Declaration of Principles
COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 24: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during a press conference as part of the 2015 NHL All-Star Weeknd at the Nationwide Arena on January 24, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Today was the start of NHL Media Day in New York City and the NHL kicked off the event with a massive initiative.

The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players’ Association announced the “Declaration of Principles” today in New York City. It’s a program that will provide players of all ages the opportunity to develop, promote and support positive changes in the sport’s culture.

As was reported by Sportsnet, Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “The Declaration of Principles represents the hockey world speaking with one voice: our game teaches life lessons that can guide a meaningful future,”  the NHL commissioner also mentioned, “While not everyone who plays the game will have an NHL career, every player at every level – and the family and friends of every player – can enjoy rewarding experiences and share a common commitment to respect, inclusiveness and sportsmanship.”

Seventeen hockey organizations from around the world have signed on to be included in this declaration. Some of which are USA Hockey, American Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, National Women’s Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. All seventeen organizations signed on to do their part to uphold the declaration in a show of hockey unity.

The Declaration of Principles Pledge:

We Believe:

  • Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders – organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operators – play a role in this effort.
  • Hockey’s greatest value is the role it plays in the development of character and life skills.
  • All hockey organizations – regardless of size or level of competition – bring value to players and families in their ability to deliver a positive family experience.
  • Physical activity is important for a healthy body, mind and spirit.
  • There are significant benefits of youth participation in multiple sports.
  • Hockey programs should be age-appropriate for all players, accounting for each individual’s physical, emotional and cognitive development.
  • There is great value in all forms of hockey, both on and off the ice.

All hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Simply put, hockey is for everyone.
We believe in our ability to improve lives and strengthen communities globally through hockey. We believe that living by these Principles will provide a healthy, balanced and enjoyable experience for all and inspire impactful service beyond the rink.

How did the Declaration of Principles Start?

The process to get this project off the ground was an unusual one. Being that hockey is the main subject, one would think the idea would have started in Canada or the United States. In actuality, it began in, of all places, at the Vatican.

Dan Rosen tweeted that a trip taken by former New York Islander and Ranger Pat Lafontaine and former Los Angeles King Luc Robitaille two and a half years ago to the Vatican for a conference on principals of sports kick started this movement. Lafontaine currently works for the National Hockey League as Vice President of Hockey Development and was the driver of the process to get the Declaration completed.

The kicker for Lafontaine is that he received a letter applauding the work he has done to get this project up and running. The Pope himself sent the letter, which Lafontaine read at today’s announcement, endorsing the Declaration of Principles.

The National Hockey League had many of its marquee players from across the league in New York City today to help spread the word of today’s announcement. At The Today Show’s 1A studio at Rockefeller Center, Marc-Andre Fleury, Seth Jones, Connor McDavid, and Ryan McDonagh were out in the plaza as host Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie had a competition taking shots on Fleury. They had a dual purpose, as the players also discussed the 100 years of the National Hockey League.

Kevin Shattenkirk and Erik Karlsson were among the players who attended the Declaration announcement conducted by Commissioner Gary Bettman. The players attending this announcement showed how important they are to this project. The players and their fans make the National Hockey League a strong united family, and family is what this whole declaration is all about.

A graduate of St. John's University class of '91. I have been a fan of the New York Rangers since the days of Peter Puck. Founder of Ranger Proud, the Facebook page that covers all news, notes, pre /post-game stats, and player quotes. I can be reached at