Perhaps there is no NHLer more familiar with falling down than Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell.
That’s why the 2012 NHL All-Star, along with his sister Kyla Hartnell, decided to create HartnellDown, a children’s book about the value of picking yourself up.
“My brother has always fallen on the ice,” Nanaimo resident Kyla Hartnell said. “There was a saying a long time ago that it ain’t a practice until Hartnell falls.”
The idea for the book began sometime late last year when the Philadelphia Flyers forward turned a little bit of critical humour into something positive. Proceeds from the book will benefit the NHLer’s foundation, #HartnellDown.
“It’s a simple book with fun illustrations,” Kyla said. “The message is quite clear. It’s about perseverance and getting back up when you fall down.”
Scott and Kyla Hartnell were raised in Saskatchewan, with Scott being the youngest of four siblings. Kyla, the eldest, recalled how happy her brother was as a child.
“He had the biggest smile on his face and he was a cuddly kid,” she said.
The Hartnells’ generosity was instilled at an early age, when their father would often bring disabled kids to their hockey games and various other sporting events.
“My dad was a school administrator and he promoted the inclusion of kids with disabilities, long before it was cool to do so,” Kyla said. “As we grew up, when we went to the rink or the pool or the ball field we always had somebody in tow with us that was often severely disabled. That’s the culture we grew up in.
“We developed compassion and it’s hard to explain, but it’s normal for us. That’s part of the reason why Scott wants to give back. He wants to make a difference,” Kyla added.
Hartnell was drafted sixth overall by Nashville Predators in 2000. The former Prince Albert Raider has played in more NHL games than anyone else from his draft year.
“His first few years playing in that program in Nashville under Barry Trotz, he was described as a bull in a china shop,” Kyla said.
In 2007, the Predators traded Hartnell along with Kimmo Timonen to the Philadelphia Flyers. It wasn’t long before Hartnell became a fan favourite and a favourite to poke fun at.
“Scott has been described as someone who is lighthearted in the dressing room,” Kyla said. “Being surrounded by people with disabilities can get awkward but we have always had this knack to make it less awkward.”
The charitable foundation #HartnellDown was born when diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, Seth Hastings, decided to count the amount of times Hartnell fell down during a game on Twitter using the hashtag of the same name.
“One of the fans in the stands noted that he (Scott) fell a lot,” Kyla said. “So he decided to start a cumulative count and Scott noticed this sign in the stands that said Hartnell Down 202.”
Hartnell decided to turn the whole thing into something positive. In 2012 the #HartnellDown Foundation formed with the mandate to support charities across North America that support local hockey.
“Scott has always had this knack for taking criticism and turning it inside out into humour or charity,” his eldest sister said.
Hartnell now donates money every time he falls down. This season alone he has donated $5,250 toward his foundation.
“He’s got a huge heart,” Kyla said. “He’s an awesome brother.”
Copies of HartnellDown can be purchased for $20 at Long Lake Physiotherapy located at 2-4906 Wellington Rd. (Open weekdays from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.). More information on #HartnellDown can be found at www.hartnelldown.com or by following @Hartsy19 on Twitter.