Brent Sopel’s journey to the NHL really began in Saskatoon, where he played his major junior with the WHL’s Blades. Sopel is hoping he can help spark some other major league dreams by giving back to his community.
Sopel held a hockey camp in Saskatoon this past week that carried a fee of $950 per player. However, Sopel surprised the families of the 30 girls participating in the camp by waiving the registration fee and refunding it to the families. His hope, he told CBC, was that his gesture could help him promote future camps.
“Essentially, what I want is them to go back and build this camp little by little, year by year, just by the word of mouth, that they had a great time,” Sopel told CBC.
“They can spread the word that it was a great camp, that they were treated with respect, they learned a ton,” he added.
Sopel, who spent the first 33 games of his junior career with the Blades, said he had been asked a number of times to start up an all-girls camp. According to CBC, Sopel, “doesn’t understand why there aren’t more of them.” His camp, which kicked off Monday and runs until July 24, was open to all girls born in 2005 or later.
Sopel was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the sixth-round, 144th overall, of the 1995 draft. He went on to have a 12-year NHL career that spanned 659 games and saw him make stops with the Canucks, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens. Over the course of his career, he scored 44 goals and 218 points.
The 38-year-old former blueliner, who won the Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2009-10, last played in 2014-15 with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He officially retired from the game in February 2015.