Jack Eichel and Jeff Skinner of the Buffalo Sabres are using their platform to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Western New York.
Eichel, the Sabres' 23-year-old captain, partnered with the hockey manufacturing company Bauer to donate 5,000 protective shields to Buffalo area hospitals. Skinner, meanwhile, announced Wednesday on his Instagram account that he is donating $53,000 to a fund created by Pegula Sports and Entertainment to help frontline health care workers and others affected by the coronavirus in Western New York.
The contributions come one week after PSE announced its initial $1.2 million donation to Covid-19 related causes in the area. Sabres players also partnered with PSE and the Buffalo Sabres Foundation to pay for any lost wages encountered by part-time arena employees if the NHL cancels the remainder of its regular season.
"I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe at home," Skinner said on an Instagram post Wednesday. "I know unfortunately not everyone is able to stay home during these difficult times. I want to say thank you to all of our hospital workers that are on the frontlines helping to care for all of those that have been affected by the virus. I'm proud to join my teammates in support of Kim and Terry Pegula's efforts towards helping out our Western New York community. I'm donating $53,000 to the fund they created that will go towards helping health care workers and organizations that will provide food to those in need."
Eichel, a Bauer-sponsored athlete, told reporters during a conference call Monday that hockey is currently on the "back burner" for him as the public health crisis has overwhelmed health care systems around the globe.
In response to hospital supply shortages in North America, Bauer announced last week it was dedicating its resources to produce medical shields. Its Quebec facility reportedly received orders for more than one million units in approximately 48 hours.
The shields provide total facial protection by covering the eyes and are designed to be worn with a regular medical mask over the nose and mouth. Bauer does not expect to profit from temporarily dedicating its facilities to producing the personal protective devices.
The face shields for Canadian orders are being produced at Bauer’s facility in Blainville, Quebec, and at the Cascade Lacrosse facility in Liverpool, N.Y., for orders in the United States.
“We're all on the same team in helping our medical professionals get the necessary protective equipment they need to help in the fight against Covid-19,” said, Mary-Kay Messier, Bauer Hockey's VP of Global Marketing, in a news release. “Nurses, doctors and so many others are risking their own health to save the lives of others. These are the true heroes of coronavirus.
"Our team was eager to step up and do what we can, just like Jack is stepping up to help his community in Buffalo. We're grateful for this partnership with Jack and the Buffalo Sabres, and we hope others continue to help because we all need to support our families, friends and neighbors right now.”
However, overwhelming demand for the shields caused the company to temporarily suspend the intake of new orders. Bauer has made its manufacturing and design instructions available to the public in hopes that another company is able to make the shields.
Brian's Custom Goalie Equipment and Vaughn Custom Sports, both prominent hockey equipment manufacturers, have dedicated their resources to making medical gowns.
Eichel has scored a career-high 36 goals during his fifth NHL season. His mother, Anne, works in ambulatory surgery at Boston Medical Center, though she is currently on paid leave while caring for his father, Bob, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.
“I am so thankful to all those medical professionals that are on the front lines taking care of our community in the battle against this virus,” Eichel said. “The dedication to Western New York that they continue to show is incredible. I am happy to work with my friends at Bauer to purchase these masks. Hopefully, they will help play a part in keeping our hospital workers safer and healthier.”