Anthony Duckler was moved by the photo of a little boy holding a stuffed bear.
In the winger’s Twitter feed was Musa Siddiki, who was showcasing his new bear dressed in hockey gear. The 6-year-old named him Duclair, Musa told his father Imran, “because he is brown and plays hockey like me.”
After proudly showcasing his teammates in the Florida Panthers dressing room, Duckler invited Siddike’s family to the game and presented Musa and his older sister Aile with a signed stick and puck. When Musa participated in Florida’s “Learn to Play” program in June, he met a real Panther teddy bear. “Any such story touches your heart,” Duckler said. “I hope it will affect a couple more children from minorities and make them play hockey, sports, than they want.”
“(Musa) has always been drawn to Anthony because he is a minority player. It blew his mind, ”Imran Sidiki said. “If it’s not hockey, then it’s some other arena where he’ll be a stranger in the room. And the fact that he now has this community where he feels a little more welcome is really amazing. ”
The same can be said of Duckler. After battling five different teams in the first six seasons of his NHL career, Duckler settled comfortably in Florida. In July 2021, he agreed to the longest contract since his entry-level contract, a three-year deal totaling $ 9 million.
A native of Pointe Claire, Quebec, with elite puck skills and speed, he has succeeded no matter where he is in the Panthers. The striker’s ability of the top six to hold the puck, punching defenders to score scoring chances in a hurry, was a key component of one of the league’s best attacks. If the chance at the peak has not brought any of the 28 goals he has scored in the last two seasons, Duckler’s teammates often use rebounds.
Since Andrew Brunet took over as interim Florida coach in late October, Duckler has scored minutes on power play for his ability to calculate the puck. With 18 goals and 34 points in 37 games, Ducler was on pace to break his personal best of 23 goals and 44 points.
“With his speed, he will help any line he plays on,” said the Brunette. “It’s kind of on merit. If you play at the level at which he plays, he will play on the top two lines and on a powerful game. If it doesn’t go so well, it brings different intangibles to each line. As a player, when you know what you are counting on and need, you usually work better and feel better. ”
The summer of 2020 brought about changes in Duckler’s personal and professional careers. Following the assassination of George Floyd and global protests over racial equality in May, the 26-year-old became a member of the executive committee of the Alliance for Hockey Diversity, an independent group dedicated to “eradicating racism and intolerance” in sports.
Literally a few months later he became an unlimited free agent after the Ottawa Senators refused to offer him a contract, even though he left the campaign with 23 goals. Duckler fired his mission and took control of his negotiations. After two months in the free agent market, he signed a $ 1.7 million annual contract with Florida – just $ 50,000 more than his previous contract.
The union of perennial losers proved perfect. Duckler earned time along with two of the game’s two most prolific stars, Alexander Barkov and Jonathan Hubert, while at the same time becoming a valuable player in Florida’s success.
After Duclair signed a long-term contract in Florida, he decided to part with number 91 in exchange for 10. When several fans who promised their “Duke” fandom went online to find out if he would change his T-shirt for updated numbers, Duckler came through.
Its market coverage with a minority population also has a positive impact. When the Hockey Diversity Alliance launched its “Catch the Hate” campaign, Duckler brought rolls of ribbon labeled “Racism is not a place in hockey” to the Cats dressing room. He sent a message to his teammates that he would use it, and invited them to join him. “Everyone immediately supported the cause,” he said
Duckler for the media wearing “Vamos Gatos!” (Go Cats!) T-shirt. “I really appreciate this boys from the bottom of my heart.”
“The role Anthony plays in the league, he accepts it,” Siddiki said. “It would be easy for him to avoid having a mantle of diversity and minorities in hockey, but he does it perfectly. He really owns them so well. We are very fond of them. ”
It took some time to find a welcoming atmosphere, but Duckler opened his comfort zone in Florida.
Anthony Duckler: Shock player finally
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