The Boston Bruins star right-winger has a reputation for being loathed around the National Hockey League but loved in the Bruins locker room – and now he’s earned some big respect in Digby too.
Marchand, from Hammonds Plains, stood up last July at a gala fundraiser at the Pines Resort and announced he was giving Tricia Titus of Digby and her four boys an all-expenses-paid trip to Nashville to watch the National Hockey League All Star game.
Well it all started when the Maritime NHLers For Kids golf tournament came to town.
Chris Larsen, who organizes the annual fundraiser for minor hockey players in the Maritimes, wanted to make a new version of their feature video which explains to people what the Maritime NHLers for Kids does with their money.
Jonathan Ettinger, president of the Clare Digby Minor Hockey Association, asked Titus, a single mom, if she and her boys would tell their story for the camera.
They did and the video was shown at the fundraiser in Digby in July.
“It’s a big struggle, just the hockey fees the equipment, the travelling, hockey tournaments, it’s a big fee and we make it work,” she says in the video. “We save all year round, the kids help out. They do odd jobs to kind of help out with equipment that they want.”
After the video Titus said a little speech on stage thanking everyone at the fundraiser for their work to help families afford hockey.
The boys volunteered as caddies at the golf tournament and afterwards they were all asked if they’d like to attend the gala fundraising dinner.
“We were sitting right there with all the NHLers,” says Titus. “Brad was sitting behind us so close we could have touched him.”
They played the video again before the auction and then the bidding started on various donated prizes.
“People were bidding like crazy, they were spending thousands of dollars, and they kept bumping up different packages,” remembers Titus. “Like they would throw some jerseys in or extra tickets.”
And then up came a prize from Enterprise Car Rental: two tickets to the NHL All Star Game and Skills Competition and an SUV rental in Nashville.
Marchand started bidding on the prize and asked Enterprise to bump it up to five tickets.
After he won the bidding, Marchand went up on stage and announced he was paying for the flights and accommodation for Titus and her boys to go to Nashville.
“After that I don’t remember much,” says Titus. “I was bawling, my sister was crying, my friends were crying.”
Titus was scared about travelling alone with the boys and asked if her sister Cindy O’Neil could come along to help her navigate airports and customs.
Instead of just helping arrange matching flights and hotel bookings, Marchand’s agent paid for O’Neil’s flight and stay too.
The family landed in Nashville on Jan. 28 and they came home Feb. 2.
Enterprise set them up in a van because none of the SUVs were big enough. They gave them passes to the Fan Fair which featured bands, mascots, NHL players and a mini rink where fans could test their own skills like puck handling passing and shooting.
That was Noah’s favourite part – that and being able to watch NHL players test their skills and of course watching the All Star game.
Myles’ favourite part was seeing the NHL players up close and the warm t-shirt weather in Nashville and how friendly everyone was.
Owen thought it was funny when ever Patrick Kane's name was mentioned or he touched the puck, the crowed would boo him – even though he was captain of the Central Division team which included four of the Nashville Predators. But then he normally plays for Chicago, who are big rivals with Nashville.
Even when Kane scored, the fans cheered then booed.
Marcus loved all the excitement of the game and seeing country music singer Chris Young perform live. Marcus also got Young, who was one of the celebrity coaches, to sign his All Star hat.
For Tricia, it was all about seeing her sons soak up the experience.
“The highlight for me was watching the looks on their faces as we walked up to the rink,” she said. “They were pretty excited. They checked a lot of things off the bucket list: first time flying, first time out of Canada, NHL All Star game - if we don’t ever go anywhere again, this is something we will never forget.”
The Maritime NHLers For Kids raised an all-time high $91,000 in 2015.
Jumpstart is distributing $66,000 in Digby, Moncton and Charlottetown to help remove financial barriers that prevent young boys and girls from playing minor hockey in N.S., N.B. and P.E.I.
The Clare-Digby Minor Hockey Association received and distributed 25 full sets of hockey gear from the NHLPA, worth $25,000.
The Maritimers NHLers for Kids will be in Moncton this year July 27-28.
Tricia Titus and family hockey video: