Jason Spezza and the Toronto Maple Leafs Are Hockey Heroes

(L-R) Jake Muzzin #8 and Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(L-R) Jake Muzzin #8 and Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Players on the Toronto Maple Leafs made a secret philanthropic move that leaked out over the weekend. They truly are hockey heroes.

COVID-19 has taken far too many casualties. It’s not only stolen lives and people’s health but it has ravaged industries and forced too many out of work. The hockey world has been rocked as well and some on the Toronto Maple Leafs did what they could to help.

There are multiple stories of players having their dreams dashed. This disease has kept players off the ice from minor hockey through junior, right up to the professional ranks.

Since the game has been put on pause in different leagues, its top prospects are left without an outlet or ability to chase their dream. From it affecting the 2021 NHL draft to the players no longer receiving a much-needed pay cheque, hockey careers are being destroyed.

Toronto Maple Leafs Players Step Up

The players in the American Hockey League (AHL) are seeing their wallets lightened this year. With the 2020-21 AHL season being shortened and many arenas still not allowing fans to enter, the players are receiving less than half salaries.

This season, AHL players on one-way NHL contracts will not see their pay change other than a 10% deferral and the 20% escrow. However, the players on two-way contracts will get just 48-percent of their pay. The least a player can earn this season is $30,000 gross. That’s down from the league minimum of $51,000.

This didn’t sit right for Jason Spezza who wanted to do his part to ensure that the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies’ players, still earn a decent living. Elliotte Friedman reported on the Maple Leafs players’ actions to help their AHL brethren though the NHLers themselves tried to keep things quiet.

It was reported that Spezza led the charge of speaking with the well-compensated Leafs to ask them to contribute to supplementing the Marlies’ salaries. Everyone deserves to earn a livable wage and the Toronto Maple Leafs players did what they could by taking money out of their own pockets to ensure that others are able to feed their families.

Spezza and the Maple Leafs should be admired for the act. They could have easily turned a blind eye but their recognition that others were struggling and deciding to help is noble. When there were teams choosing not to pay some of their employees, it shows the character of these players and how the team is full of leaders. It isn’t hyperbole to call these players heroes. Their philanthropic actions allow the Marlies players to remain committed to their dream.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs players have shown that they care for the less fortunate. Hopefully, their move inspires others around the game to continue to give back wherever possible.