Jaccob Slavin pulled off his sneakers, put his head down and barreled into the “obstacle course.”
Moments later, the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman was giving pointers on taking a slapshot.
Next, off came the sneakers again as Slavin waited his turn — more than a foot taller than anyone else in line — to go down the inflatable slide.
So it went Thursday as Slavin, Canes team president Don Waddell and others from the organization were involved in a community field-day event at the Wake County Boys Club. For Slavin, 22, it was more than a personal appearance. He was a participant, too, and enjoyed himself.
“This is for the kids, really,” Slavin said. “It’s great for us as an organization to get out here and show them that we are just a bunch or normal people who happen to play hockey as our job. It’s important to give back to the community.”
The Hurricanes and those from Lenovo partnered Thursday at the event, joining to assist in the activities. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Wake County were a Hurricanes Kids ‘N Community Foundation GOAL grant recipient in 2013 and are to receive $150,000 from the foundation over three years for the Project Power Play initiative, a program that assists the 45 most at-risk students in the organization and includes the hiring of an academic intervention manager.
Lenovo is a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Hurricanes, and sponsored the Canes’ alumni game that raised more than $80,000 for the Kids ‘N Community Foundation.
“Having this opportunity to partner with Lenovo and to give back to this kind of charity is critical to us in the community,” Waddell said. “And any time you can have a player like a Jaccob Slavin out here and be part of it, that’s just a tremendous thing for the young adults who are here to enjoy it.”
Slavin played 63 games as a rookie last season — nearly as many as his two seasons combined at Colorado College — and proved he belonged in the NHL with his calm, effective play on the back end. He and his family stayed in Raleigh much of the offseason, participating in church events, while Slavin has gotten in some skating at Raleigh Center Ice and gone through conditioning workouts with Canes assistant strength coach Bill Burniston.
“I’m a little bit bigger, I guess,” he said. “Quicker? I hope so.”
Waddell said he senses excitement continuing to build as a new season nears. He said the season-ticket renewal is almost 91 percent from last year, saying it was tangible proof people are “on-board and believing in this team,” and noted eight of nine corporate suite holders that were due for renewal have been re-signed.
“To me, it goes back to last year and the trade deadline when a lot of people thought we’d pack it in, and the young kids along with our veteran players did a tremendous job. So we had something good to build off,” Waddell said. “To me, this is a pretty critical year for us, because coming into the past couple of summers no one felt this optimistic about the team. Now. we’ve got to go out and do it.”