The Toronto Maple Leafs are hosting the Don Mills Flyers Saturday, the team of murdered Greater Toronto Hockey League star goalie Roy Pejcinovski.
I am sure you remember that tragic incident that took place a few weeks ago, when a 39-year-old woman and her 15-year-old son were found dead in an Ajax home. Her 13-year-old daughter was also found in the home with life-threatening injuries, and died in hospital late Wednesday night. The 15-year-old was identified as Roy, a star goalie with the Don Mills Flyers bantam AAA hockey team.
This morning, the Flyers got a chance to walk through the Maple Leafs’ dressing room before skating on the Air Canada Centre ice ahead of Saturday’s Leafs against the Winnipeg Jets game, that will take place later today.
On Thursday, Maple Leafs top forward Mitch Marner explained how he decided to bring support to the family and awareness to the tragedy after he realized his career in the National Hockey League allowed him to move people and make a real difference outside of the rink.
“I started noticing I had the power when I was in London — going to hospitals, talking to the kids and enjoying those moments. Now, I’m in Toronto, the biggest hockey market. Even people who don’t follow you [on social media] see your tweets — that’s the thing that’s special about this,” Marner said to Sportsnet.
“We have a platform we can express ourselves on that can bring a lot of awareness and help out. I’m trying to do that, and I think we can all do that. If you believe in something and can help out, you shouldn’t be afraid.”
Marner played his minor midget year, 2012-13, with the Flyers. He was not a teammate of Roy, and never met him personally, but he is surrounded by people who know the family well and still maintains ties to the GTHL organization. Hence why he was so eager to help and make a difference.
Jets star Mark Scheifele also met with the Flyers, signing autographs in the stands.
I am hoping this day can brighten up the lives of these young players, who are deeply affected by the passing of their friend who died a hero, trying to protect his mother from a violent ex-boyfriend.
"It’s tough for the players on the team, the parents, the staff — he was a great kid,” team president Peter MacInnis told The Canadian Press. “And his buddies on the team are 14 or 15, how do you deal with that?”
“He was an elite athlete, he was absolutely the team’s No. 1 goalie and he has been for several years,” he said, adding that grief counsellors were brought in at Wednesday night’s practice to break the news to Pejcinovski’s teammates.
The Pejcinovski Family Memorial Fund was established in their honour. The funds are being directed to causes including domestic violence and children initiatives such as sport and play.
Great job Leafs for supporting Roy's teammates at this difficult time.