Max Pacioretty, who was born in Connecticut, knows firsthand what it’s like to grow up in a non-traditional hockey market.
He takes the sport’s diversity issues seriously as one of the few players of Hispanic descent in the NHL. That’s why days like Monday are important to him.
Pacioretty and his Golden Knights teammate Paul Stastny took an hour out of their day to teach street hockey to a group of about 40 kids at Doc Pearson Community Center in North Las Vegas. It was part of their “Paul and Patches” program, which tries to spread the game to disadvantaged youth.
Only a few kids said before the event that they’d played hockey before. Pacioretty and Stastny hope that will change now.
“Obviously, coming from Montreal you never meet a kid that never played hockey,” Pacioretty said. “So to come in a gym full of kids who had never played and at the end say they were looking forward to playing again is really special.”
Pacioretty and Stastny have had their program for two seasons. They teach kids about hockey and then invite them to see the Knights. Many of Monday’s students will attend Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers as the two players’ guests.
They hope those experiences encourage more kids to give hockey a chance at a young age. Expanding the game is important to both of them, Pacioretty said, and they’re willing to give their time to try and make it happen.
“We’ve been so fortunate with what this game has given to us,” Stastny said. “As you get older you realize it’s about sharing the wealth of knowledge that you have and trying to spread the joy this game has given us to others.”