Vancouver Canucks taking steps to help fans with autism enjoy the games
When the Vancouver Canucks play their second-last home game of the NHL hockey season on Tuesday night, they’ll find goaltender Jacob Markstrom sporting a new look.
The team’s starting goalie will be wearing a new mask that carries imagery familiar to Canucks fans — like Johnny Canuck, and the orca.
But along the part of the mask that protects his jaw, he’ll sport puzzle pieces — symbols meant to mark the 10th year of the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), as well as World Autism Awareness Day.
WATCH: Canucks take steps to make Rogers Arena ‘autism aware’
“Everybody knows somebody that [autism] affects,” Markstrom, who is also a CAN ambassador, told Global News.
“So I think it’s a great thing. I’ve got a venue [where] I can inform people, playing hockey.”
The mask is just the latest sign of the organization’s attention to autism.
Starting Tuesday, Rogers Arena will be an “Autism Aware” facility, with resources and services to support fans when they go to games, concerts or any other events taking place at the venue.
Resources will include sensory kits with items such as noise-blocking headphones.
There will also be a “Quiet Room” for fans who have sensory sensitivities, and over 50 staff will be trained on how to recognize autism and interact with people who are on the spectrum.
Autism is a subject that hits close to home for Canucks co-owner Paolo Aquilini.
His son Christian is on the spectrum.
“We have been walking the trials, tribulations, the joys, the pains of so many other parents across this province and across the world,” Aquilini said.
“We have a passion to help families, really.”
Markstrom will only wear the mask for a single game. CAN will later auction it off to support the network’s province-wide programs.
Players will also don CAN stickers on the backs of their helmets.
The national anthem will be sung by Dylan Okimaw, a boy from Kelowna who has autism.
The game will also mark the second-last time that Daniel and Henrik Sedin will play in Vancouver after the brothers announced their retirement on Monday.
The Canucks will face the Vegas Golden Knights.
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.