Red Deer Rebels center Connor Bleackley isn’t likely to suit up for the opening games of the Memorial Cup this weekend, but the 20-year-old will be watching the games intently in hopes the Rebels can run up the score in support of those affected by the wild fires in Fort McMurray, Alta.
Bleackley announced Thursday via his Twitter account that he will be donating $20 for every goal the Rebels score at the Memorial Cup to the Canadian Red Cross in support of the organizations efforts in Fort McMurray. He’ll continue his drive up until May 30, which is the day before the Canadian government is closing its window to match all donations. A native of High River, Alta., which lies more than 800 kilometers south of Fort McMurray, Bleackley said he knows how much the support can mean.
“The devastation these people have and will face is unimaginable,” Bleackley wrote. “Having gone through the 2013 floods in High Rivers with my family, I know how important and uplifting it is to receive the support from everyone across Canada and the world.”
The Rebels pivot also asked his Twitter followers to support in any way they can.
Bleackley was a first-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2014, but his rights were traded to the Arizona Coyotes in the Mikkel Boedker trade. However, still unsigned with the deadline looming for the Desert Dogs to get him under contract, there’s a possibility Bleackley could be re-entering the draft this June.
The CHL announced it will be making a minimum donation of $150,000, which will include a $50,000 base donation as well as the proceeds from the 50/50 at the first three games of the Memorial Cup.
The donations from Bleackley and the CHL aren’t the first to go to Fort McMurray.
The St. Louis Blues donated the proceeds from their 50/50 raffle during Game 4 of the second round to help those affected by the fires, which was followed shortly thereafter by a heart-wrenching story on The Players’ Tribune by Blues winger Scottie Upshall, telling the people of Fort McMurray to keep fighting and stay strong during this time of struggle.
Another Alberta native, Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, is also donating to the cause. Phillips and Ottawa mayor Jim Watson are teaming up to put on ‘Ottawa4FortMac,’ a fundraiser which will see proceeds benefit Canadian Red Cross.
In addition to the donations from the Blues and Phillips, the NHL, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens have all donated $100,000 to the Canadian Red Cross, as well as accepting donations from fans to help boost the total donation.