Hockey Fights Cancer Celebrates 19 Years With The NHL
NEWARK, NJ - OCTOBER 27: A New Jersey Devils player skates in warmups while wearing a Hockey Fights Cancer jersey prior to the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Prudential Center on October 27, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hockey Fights Cancer is a group partnered with the NHL and the NHLPA. It has raised over $18 million since its inception in 1999.

Hockey Fights Cancer is a league-wide event that brings cancer awareness throughout the teams of the National Hockey League. Each team is designated a day throughout the month of November as their Hockey Fights Cancer day.

As Tom Gulitti wrote for, “‘It started 19 years ago when John Cullen was recovering in Tampa and it was a call to arms,’ Commissioner Gary Bettman said. ‘It was a wake-up call. It was something that touched the family and got us all focused.’ Cullen was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999 at the time. The league had planned to donate $50,000 along with the NHLPA with the goal of raising $500,000 by the All-Star game. With the help of the NHL teams, their players, the NHL Officials’ Association, the CBC and North American sponsor MBNA, Hockey Fights Cancer had raised more than $900,000 by the news conference in Tampa on Jan. 23, 1999,” Gulitti wrote in his article. An incredible accomplishment for all the parties involved.

Over the years, many NHL stars have been diagnosed with different forms of cancer. Mario Lemieux, Saku KoivuPhil KesselOlli Maatta, Jason Blake and Nicholle Anderson are some most recognized. The league has unfortunately lost some of its representatives to cancer as well in Dave Strader, Pat Burns, Bryan Murray, former New Yorker Rangers coach Roger Neilson, and Ed Snider. Sometimes the odds are just stacked too much against a person, but their memory and fight will continue.

Most recently a few more famous hockey names have come out revealing they have cancer. Current New Jersey Devil and former New York Ranger Brian Boyle, Chicago Blackhawks and NBC Sports announcer Ed Olczyk and former NHL Referee Kerry Frasier all have now been linked to cancer.

A terrible disease cancer is, but its great to know that the NHL community is trying to find a way to make peoples lives better as they battle cancer. Brian Boyle and Ed Olycyk both have resumed their careers after going through treatments. Kerry Frasier just announced his diagnosis, last Friday. Though his cancer is stated as incurable, Fraser will continue to fight with the tenacity and aggressiveness that he used when he was officiating in the National Hockey League.

The NHL tries to get the support all people who struggle with cancer. Ottowa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, whose wife Nicholle had a public battle with cancer last season, is the ambassador to the NHL’s #HockeyFightsCancer program. They couldn’t have picked a stronger individual to carry that title.

Nicholle Anderson was part of the ceremonial puck drop for the game celebrating Hocket Fights Cancer night for the Ottowa Senators.

The New York Islanders had their Hockey Fight’s Cancer night this past Sunday.

The players wore a special lavender jersey during warmups that fans had a chance to bid on in an auction prior to the game with all proceeds benefitting the cancer campaign.

The campaign is not only for players but for everyone battling cancer. Here the Islanders had some important fans in the dressing room prior to their game Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche.

The league has done a great job with this program. Cancer is a disease that has affected people in so many ways and Hockey Fights Cancer is a way the league and its players can give back to a community in a positive and fun way.

The smiles on the children’s faces who come to the game and participate as the guest of the teams makes all the work to make Hockey Fights Cancer worth it.

Stand Up for someone you love. #HockeyFightsCancer

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