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Hockey players offset more than 4,200 tonnes of carbon, and get personal about the environment

TORONTO NHL players are "going green" in a big way, due in part to the success of the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge program. Players are taking more action in their own lives to reduce their environmental footprint. With over 420 NHLPA members signing up for the second year of the program, the players continue to show leadership on the environment.

"I'm very proud that we've offset more than 4,200 tonnes of carbon emissions this season, which is like taking 840 cars off the road for a year," said Andrew Ference, the Boston Bruins' defenseman who initiated the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge. "But best of all, I'm hearing of more and more players in the dressing rooms talking about 'going green'."

The NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge is part of the partnership between the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) and the David Suzuki Foundation. It enables NHL players to purchase high quality, Gold Standard carbon credits through Montreal-based not-for-profit, Planetair. These credits offset the travel emissions associated with playing professional hockey and minimize the players' carbon footprint for their regular season travels.

"This is about awareness for the players and setting an example for the fans," said Paul Kelly, NHLPA Executive Director. "Carbon offsets are only the beginning. We've seen the Challenge help players think green in their daily lives, and we hope our players will continue to lead professional athletes in embracing the latest environmental initiatives."

"We're thrilled that this initiative is still going strong and that so many of the players are finding additional ways to reduce their environmental footprint," said David Suzuki. "This message should inspire fans, other athletes and sports organizations to do the same."

Participating in the program has prompted several NHLPA members to use renewable energy, drive hybrid cars, and purchase locally grown food. Read personal stories from NHLPA "green ambassadors" below.

Hockey fans can get involved in this initiative by checking out both www.nhlpa.com and http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/climate-change/projects/play-it-cool/. For more information on the program or for interviews, please contact:

Andrew Wolfe
Communications Coordinator
National Hockey League Players' Association
(416) 313-2316

David Suzuki Foundation
(604) 732-4228


Scott Niedermayer — Anaheim Ducks
As many hockey fans already know, Scott drives a hybrid vehicle. He is also a supporter of the recycling program around his team's dressing room. Scott recently added insulation around his house and had a radiant barrier installed on his roof to conserve energy. He takes reusable bags to the grocery store and turns off the lights around the house if he's not using them. "Growing up, I had the opportunity to enjoy many great aspects of the outdoors, and I want my children and grandchildren to be able to enjoy these same things that I did," Scott said.

Zdeno Chara — Boston Bruins
Zdeno started taking action to protect the environment years ago, while growing up in Slovakia. To save drinking water, he collected rainwater for the plants. At school, he participated in newspaper recycling contests, where the class with the highest collection rates won a prize. Zdeno continues to recycle today, encouraging the habit among his teammates. Whenever possible, he rides his bike and makes a point of carpooling when he cannot avoid driving. Zdeno added, "Protecting the environment was very important where I grew up and this has stuck with me. If you take care of the environment, the environment will take care of you."

Andrew Ference — Boston Bruins
Andrew is involved with numerous environmental initiatives, in addition to his ongoing commitment to the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge. Recently, Andrew visited a high school science class in the Boston area where he demonstrated a worm composting system for the students. Andrew is a strong advocate for green living and he practices what he preaches. He walks or bikes to work every day, encourages the use of public transit and eats organic food for pre and post-game meals.

Steve Montador — Boston Bruins
Steve was instrumental in starting a dressing room recycling program while playing for Florida, and proudly says that more players are openly talking about the importance of considering the environment. At home, Steve makes a conscious effort to conserve energy by unplugging devices that use electricity and turning off the lights when they are not being used. Since moving to Boston, he walks to practices and games. "It feels good knowing that I'm making positive changes in my life that can affect the environment and the people around me," Steve said.

Ryan Miller — Buffalo Sabres
Since Ryan first signed up for the NHLPA Carbon Neutral Challenge, he thinks about his impact on the environment more. These days, Ryan makes a conscious effort to save energy at home and on the road. When it came time to buy a new vehicle last summer, he opted for a hybrid truck. Ryan added, "I'm just trying to be a little smarter about my actions. Before we started going green, I wouldn't have made that choice, but it now seems so obvious."

Robyn Regehr — Calgary Flames
A couple of seasons ago in Calgary, Robyn was one of the first players to go carbon neutral with the David Suzuki Foundation and a small group of teammates, including Andrew Ference. He was inspired to reduce his impact on the environment by his love of the outdoors. Like any father, Robyn wants his new baby to grow up in a healthy environment, so he and his wife invest in environmentally-friendly diapers. Robyn's message to the fans is clear, "It's not about changing your lifestyle in the matter of a day, but it's about being cognizant that your actions impact the environment."

Matt Walker — Chicago Blackhawks
Matt is finding ways to inspire his team to make a positive difference on the environment. He joined together with Blackhawks trainers to implement a recycling program in the team's dressing room and around the arena. Matt is also finding ways to reduce his travel emissions at home, while he and his wife also recently purchased a hybrid vehicle. Matt makes an effort to keep the environment top of mind for his peers: "I do what I can to shine the light on going green to my teammates."

Willie Mitchell — Vancouver Canucks
A native of Vancouver Island, Willie is a huge proponent of living an eco-friendly lifestyle. He has made significant changes in his personal life over the last few years, trading his SUV for a hybrid vehicle, investing in wind-powered electricity for his home in Minneapolis, and choosing locally-grown organic food. He is also a strong supporter of environmental causes. An avid outdoorsman, Willie is helping to protect wild salmon with the Save our Salmon initiative. "Like a lot of other guys, I'm just trying to do my part," Willie added.

Matt Bradley — Washington Capitals
Matt, who drives a hybrid vehicle, was influential in helping put in place a recycling program around the team's dressing room and arena. He was involved in the discussions that set the wheels in motion for his teammates to now use reusable water bottles. He tries to reduce waste and energy use around his house, wherever he can. Matt sees the value in taking action to help protect the environment: "Little things that may not seem drastic and don't even disrupt your day-to-day life, they do add up."

Ten NHLPA members also appeared in a hockey-themed promotion for the Cisco/CBC initiative, One Millions Acts of Green (www.onemillionactsofgreen.com), launched on The Hour with George Stroumboulopoulos this past October: Adrian Aucoin and Robyn Regehr of the Calgary Flames; Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios of the Edmonton Oilers; Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens; Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators; Jason Blake and Alexei Ponikarovsky of the Toronto Maple Leafs; and Willie Mitchell of the Vancouver Canucks.

March 26, 2009