The Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday announced registration is now open for the team's "Learn to Play" program.
Sabres alumnus Patrick Kaleta will continue in his second year of implementing and managing the program. As a Buffalo native, Kaleta has worked with numerous local charity organizations throughout his career to help benefit families in Western New York.
"Year one for 'Learn To Play' was a tremendous success in which we introduced the game of hockey to more than 500 youth players, and we are very excited for what year two has to offer," Kaleta said. "This year, we are expanding the program as far east as Rochester and as far south as Olean. The support from the NHL, NHLPA and USA Hockey has given us the tools to grow the game of hockey and an opportunity to create lifelong fans."
All Buffalo Sabres "Learn to Play" participants will be outfitted at Pure Hockey, the official hockey retail partner of the Buffalo Sabres and HarborCenter. Equipment kits will include a helmet, stick, equipment bag, jersey, shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves, pants, shin pads, socks and skates. Participants can register for the program at Sabres.com/LearnToPlay
Introduced in 2016, "Learn to Play" enhances the way youth hockey is offered by providing first-time participants from ages 4 to 9 with free head-to-toe equipment, age-appropriate instruction and certified coaching led by NHL alumni in a fun and safe atmosphere.
The program will be held at 10 local rinks this season with lessons taught by Sabres alumni and USA Hockey-certified instructors.
NHL alumni work with all NHL teams to make sure a consistent message of on-ice programming and messaging to coaches and parents is distributed across all markets. The program also works with USA Hockey to display the benefits of the American Development Model.
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.