Brad's awesome feature on the leisure suit and afro sportin' Blues below got me thinking about something. No, not the heyday of bad music and even worse sports uniforms. I was thinking about charity. Casino night is an annual success for the Blues and the 14 Fund. The wacky themes and the chance to rub elbows with the guys on the ice is always an alluring option for a Sunday evening, especially for chicks who are seriously trying to impress the Teej or Berglund.
All snide comments aside, though, it's a good night for a good cause. But is it, or should it be, mandatory? Not just for the guys to show up, but for teams to host charity events like this across the league? Yes, they're excellent PR for the teams, but do athletes have a responsibility to the community in which they play to lend a helping hand?Their paycheck's made out to them.
No doubt these guys get paid substantially less than people who play other sports, which is unfortunate because of the amount of punishment they take on a nightly basis. Some guys make only $500,000 a year. Yes, I know I just said "only $500,000," but af ter escrow, taxes, and mandatory contributions to the players' retirement fund and NHLPA dues, their income's significantly diminished. It's more than any of us'll see for a year's work, yes. But they're no more morally obligated to fork over money than we are, unless they want to. If you make people have to do something, it won't be genuine anyway. They don't have to give a percentage of jack or squat if they don't want to - there's no tithing in hockey.
Sometimes it's actually nice to do good for good's sake.
Players have a lot of causes that are close to their hearts; personal causes that their position and money put them in a better position to help with. Backes and his love for puppies comes to mind. Players do work with childrens' hospitals all over the metro area - it's good PR for the team and for them as an individual, yes, but you can tell that the guys love going down there and making some little kid's day, all the time raising awareness and money for something they believe in. You and I might send a check off to the local ASPCA, or St. Jude's, or whatever your charity is, and it gives us the warm and fuzzies (it's a psychological phenomena that I'm too lazy to look up right now). These guys should be able to get so many warm and fuzzies they could put Snuggie out of business.