When Ducks forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry agreed to buy equipment for first-time hockey players ages 4 to 10 who will participate in the team’s Learn to Play program, they knew they might have to hand over a sizable check at the end of this season.
“Could be,” Getzlaf said Wednesday, “and we’ll be happy to write it. If we have to write a big check that means there’s a lot of kids out there playing hockey, so that’s our ultimate goal.”
Getzlaf and Perry, linemates and friends who began their careers with the Ducks and each signed an eight-year contract extension last season, get marquee billing in the newly renamed program, Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play powered by Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. It had previously been known as Learn to Play.
“We’re going to be here for a long time. Obviously, we’ve been here for a long time already and we’ve seen how well hockey has progressed over the first eight years of our careers here,” Getzlaf said.
[Updated, 3:45 p.m.: In addition to funding the costs of Bauer equipment -- skates (ice or inline), shoulder and elbow pads, shinguards, a helmet, hockey pants, gloves and a jersey for each participant -- both players will take part in instructional sessions. The kids who sign up for the program after the four-week instructional sessions get to keep their gear.]
Both players participated in a session on Wednesday at the Honda Center with 60 children from Maranatha Christian Academy. Ducks owner Henry Samueli observed from the bench and said the involvement of Getzlaf and Perry is a fine extension of the Ducks’ sponsorship of the program.
“This is just taking it to the next level, because now you have the two superstars of our team joining in and contributing to it and offering to buy all the equipment for the kids to get them to continue to skate,” Samueli said. “It’s just fantastic. It shows their commitment to the team, their commitment to the community. It’s wonderful to see that. I’m really happy.”
Getzlaf said it was an easy decision for him and Perry to become involved.
“I think this was an opportunity where we could get involved and give some younger kids a chance to get involved that maybe wouldn’t have that opportunity,” Getzlaf said.
“Everything’s pretty expensive when it comes to getting into organized sports. But hockey, when you have that equipment and the kids are growing all the time, you need different equipment as time goes on. It’s not like you buy one pair and you get to stay in it for a long time at that age.
“So this is an opportunity for us in a financial situation that we can help out in.”
The program had 1,600 participants last year but is expected to draw more kids this year. The first four sessions are already filled.
The program is available in six locations that are part of the team’s The Rinks development program. Inline sessions will be available in Corona, Huntington Beach and Irvine.
More information and sign-up opportunities are available at www.anaheimducks.com/learntoplay.