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🏒 Linechange: Indigenous Hockey Drive, RIP Rogers Hometown & Leafs at 2.1B valuation

Your all-in-one hockey + tech+ culture news.

Dear Reader,

Welcome to this week’s edition of Linechange. As always, our newsletter tries to intelligently ( and respectfully) bridge the gap between hockey, tech, and culture. 

Here are the top stories in Linechange this week:

  • The Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive makes a difference

  • The NHL declares five-year-old Easton Oetting’s Zamboni Halloween Costume of the Year

  • Whatever happened to Rogers Hometown Hockey?

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs are still the most valuable franchise in hockey

The Indigenous Hockey Equipment Drive Is Making a HUGE Impact

This past week, volunteers with The Indigenous Equipment Drive were at the Northern Hockey Academy in Sudbury (Ontario, Canada). They gave away 150 hockey bags filled with equipment. The program is in its seventh year serving small hockey communities across Ontario. 

The 150 bags went to children from nearby First Nations groups, including Wahnapitae First Nation, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek and Henvey Inlet First Nation. That’s pretty wicked.

The Equipment Drive first started in 2015 in Midland, Ontario after Graham McWaters spoke with the parents at a First Nations hockey tournament and realized there was a dire need for new bags and equipment.

McWaters started things on a smaller scale donating a few bags and a handful of hockey sticks at a time. Today, each drive collects up to 200 bags. The best part is that all of the volunteers are hockey players themselves.

So far this year, 1,000 players have new bags filled with equipment thanks to McWaters and The Indigenous Equipment Drive. Wouldn’t it be cool if that number kept growing?

The NHL Declares the Hockey Themed Halloween Costume of the Year

Five-year-old Easton Oetting has a rare genetic disorder that limits his mobility, so he uses a wheelchair and a walker to get around. Every year, Easton’s dad D.J. makes his son a custom Halloween costume that uses his wheelchair as the centrepiece.

This year, Easton went out trick-or-treating in a custom-made Zamboni featuring the Edmonton Oilers logo and team colors. The NHL’s Twitter account called it the Costume of the Year. We call it the Costume of the Decade.

Feel-good stories like this remind me of how grateful we should all be to lace up the skates in the morning and go to practice and do all that day-to-day hockey stuff that we do to stay connected to the game directly. 

It’s also a good reminder that we can stay connected and inclusive of people regardless of how they get involved, whether it’s showing up the rink, or just being festive for Halloween.

PS… A close runner up for Costume of the Year is this beer league hockey referee dressed in a zebra-like onesie.

Whatever Happened to Rogers Hometown Hockey? 

Rogers Hometown Hockey was a roadshow-style hockey program that went across Canada each week profiling a different local community and its ties to the game we all love. I say the word “was”, because it got canceled this past summer, so you’ll no longer see it on TV in Canada.

Hometown Hockey featured Ron MacLean, Tara Slone, and other rotating hosts and guests sharing stories and basking in the glory of grassroots hockey.

The show was an attempt by Rogers to maintain the cultural angle on journalism that MacLean and others became known for thanks to Canada’s national public broadcaster, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Not everyone was thrilled to see the institution that is Hockey Night in Canada move to one of Canada’s telecom conglomerates and away from the more artistic and culturally driven public broadcaster. It becomes a game of ROI…

Again, that’s why Rogers came up with the idea for the show. They wanted to maintain the storytelling and culture of the game while providing former CBC employees with a platform to continue doing what they do best. It’s a real shame.

The above story is one of the reasons Linechange started. We don’t want our game to stop connecting to meaningful roots while ambitiously focusing on future change. It's obviously time for a new paradigm, and we are here for it.

The Toronto Maple Leafs: Hockey’s Most Valuable Franchise

Please queue in the “ they’d be worth 10 times that if they could get close to winning a Stanley Cup !” replies. The Toronto Maple Leafs franchise is worth $2.12 billion according to a recent report. Wowza. 

The story here is not so much the valuation, but the fact that Toronto’s hockey community is so obsessed with the Leafs regardless of on-ice performances. 

Torontonians ARE hockey culture, whether the team is winning or losing. I say to that: good on them. Keep that pride....

....And you've held on for 55 years, what's another 55 right? Sorry, couldn't help myself...

That’s the end of your shift for this week. Let us know what you think about the Linechange, and please do us a favour and share this newsletter with your fellow passionate hockey fan friends and family. 

Our newsletter is still growing as we approach 15,000 subscribers! We couldn’t have done it without you and we are so grateful for your support!

Don’t worry, we’re still giving way hockey jerseys once a month to one lucky winner just for sharing!

See you again next week,

Tom Sychterz, Founder

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