The Buffalo Sabres on Thursday announced Patrick Kaleta has been hired to serve as the team's youth hockey ambassador. In this role, Kaleta will implement and manage the Buffalo Sabres' Learn to Play program.
Focusing primarily on the Western New York region, Kaleta will also serve as a liaison to the local high school hockey community and will provide additional support and instruction for other youth hockey initiatives.
"I'm very excited to have the opportunity to work in the community in which I was born and raised, and to help grow the game of hockey among the youth of Western New York," Kaleta said. "As a kid, it was always a dream of mine to become a Buffalo Sabre, and now I'll have the opportunity to help other young kids develop the same passion for hockey."
Developed with the help of experts from USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, the NHL/NHLPA Learn to Play initiative aims to be the gold standard for youth hockey programs with the goal of inspiring more families to join the hockey community. Learn to Play enhances the way youth hockey is offered by providing first-time participants from ages 4 to 8 with free head-to-toe equipment, age-appropriate instruction, and certified coaching led by NHL alumni in a fun and safe atmosphere.
All Buffalo Sabres Learn to Play participants will be outfitted by Pure Hockey, the official hockey retail partner of the Buffalo Sabres and HarborCenter.
Kaleta joins the Sabres in an administrative role after playing for the team from 2007-15. A sixth-round selection (176th overall) in the 2004 NHL Draft, Kaleta suited up for 348 games as a forward for the Sabres, amassing 54 points (27 goals, 24 assists).
As a Buffalo native, Kaleta has worked with numerous local charity organizations throughout his career, including The Make-A-Wish Foundation, Operation Backbone and Cradle Beach. In 2009, Kaleta created the Helping Individuals to Smile (HITS) Foundation, which provides financial, facility and program support for underprivileged children and adults in Western New York.