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Break the Ice | Hockey Talks

Hockey Talks is a program that was inspired by Rick Rypien, former Vancouver Canucks forward, who tragically lost his battle with mental health issues in 2011. Today, 17 NHL clubs participate, sharing resources, stories and breaking the stigma that so often surrounds mental health. The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation proudly became a part of Hockey Talks through our Break the Ice initiative in 2020 with the support of Citrone 33.

Break the Ice

On April 14, 2022, the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and Citrone 33 co-hosted the annual Hockey Talks Game in support of mental health awareness and our joint Break the Ice initiative. Break the Ice is a movement for each and every Penguins fan, as mental health is health. Through #BreakTheIce, fans are challenged to connect with one another and to take positive action regarding their own mental wellness and that of their loved ones. Assist us year-round in showing that Pittsburgh is a city that champions mental wellness by supporting our Break the Ice campaign.

Penguins Bandana

At the April 14 Penguins game, all fans in attendance received a Penguins Hockey Talks Bandana courtesy of Citrone 33. Designed in collaboration with Shop Steel City, the Penguins Bandana encourages fans to visit to learn how to maintain your own mental health, recognize when someone is struggling and safely support them. The Be There Certificate is an online course created by in partnership with Born This Way Foundation. It is open to all fans and supporters... even if you were unable to attend our Hockey Talks game this season.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins players proudly support our mental health efforts through Hockey Talks and Break the Ice. Each season, the team wears Hockey Talks decals on their helmets for the dedicated game and also joins in the conversation about mental wellness to help end the stigma. In 2022, the players are used green tape on their sticks for pre-game warm-ups to further raise awareness.

#BreakTheIce Card

Fans may share how you break the ice by downloading our 'I #BreakTheIce By' Card found here. We encourage you to post your completed card on social media using #BreakTheIce and #HockeyTalks.

Be an Icebreaker

Talking about mental health should be year-round and not just on our dedicated Break the Ice Game. Start the conversation about mental health today by checking in with yourself, your loved ones and your neighbors. Ask yourself, “What have I done today to improve my mental strength?” When you start the conversation, you help to build a mentally strong and stigma-free community.

Here are suggested questions to help break the ice with those you care about:

"How are you feeling today?"
"How do you prioritize your mental health?"
"Did you take a moment today to check-in with yourself on your mental wellness?"
"What is one way, starting today, that you can focus on your mental health?"

#BreakTheIce Wristbands

Starting in 2020, #BreakTheIce EMBRACE-lets provided an opportunity for fans to check-in with their loved ones on their mental wellness. These complimentary wristband sets were available courtesy of EMBRACE Pittsburgh to help end the stigma associated with mental health. If you may have an EMBRACE-let, be sure to share a photo on social media noting how you #BreakTheIce.

Did You Know?

The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation has a signature program known as the COOL Zone, which is an early intervention behavioral health evaluation program for kids ages 3 through 12. Since 2015, the COOL Zone, developed by the Matilda Theiss Early Childhood Behavioral Health Program which is part of UPMC Western Behavioral Health, has provided mental health services to 650+ children across all 6 COOL Zone locations with the 7th location set to open in the spring of 2022. EMBRACE Pittsburgh, funded by Citrone 33, is a proud supporter of the COOL Zone program.

Our $450,000 Commitment

The Pittsburgh Penguins and Penguins Foundation are proud to support UPMC Children’s Hospital’s Whole Child Wellness Clinic, a revolutionary local initiative. Since 2018, our organization has contributed $450,000 to this program that is setting a new standard in serving kids with behavioral health needs.

Join the Conversation

Check-in with others regarding their mental health and prioritize your own too. Talking about our mental wellness will help end the stigma and show that our Penguins community is one that champions mental strength.

College Student Event

In January 2021, an exclusive event was held with Pittsburgh Penguins Alum Colby Armstrong and Humboldt Bronco Survivor Tyler Smith. Colby and Tyler hosted an open conversation with college students throughout the region about mental wellness and talked Hockey Talks on January 29. The virtual event was hosted by our friends at UnpackU and EMBRACE Pittsburgh.

In Crisis? Connect

Resolve Crisis Services - UPMC: 1/888/7-YOU-CAN (1-888-796-8226)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Crisis Text Line: Text PA to 741741
The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
NAMI: Text NAMI to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255, press 1