While hockey is on hold, The Blackhawks have put rivalries aside to join the fight against COVID-19.
According to a report from ESPN, General Motors reached out to their local team, the Detroit Red Wings, for help making face masks for people who are still at work. GM wanted an equipment sanitizing machine, as it would boost its capacity to produce the face masks.
"What we use them in the sports industry for is killing the bacteria and making that wonderful sports odor go away,” Paul Boyer, the Red Wings' head equipment manager said via ESPN. “You put anything in it that touches the skin: skates, shoulder pads, helmets. They're designed to sanitize an entire bag of hockey equipment in one shot."
But the Red Wings couldn’t help. When they opened Little Caesars Arena in 2017, they built the equipment sanitation machine into the stadium, so it couldn’t be lent out. So Boyer reached out to five other equipment managers to see if they could help, according to ESPN.
Two teams came through: the Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Rob Portugaise, GM’s executive director of manufacturing and lifelong hockey fan, was not surprised by the outreach.
“Hockey has a reputation for this, right?” Portugaise said via ESPN. “For being close-knit and helping out the community. To be able to witness it firsthand was really exciting. It was all done very quickly. The only thing they asked for was a shipping address."
With the extra hockey machines, GM is now able to make three million face masks per month, according to ESPN. All of those masks will go to workers in Michigan, but if they can increase their capacity again, they’ll look into helping other states, as well.
“You hear stories,” Portugaise said. “But this just gave me more appreciation for the hockey community.”
“It was an absolute godsend.”Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.