What a picture, right?

My wife says everyone looks a bit too serious, but we weren’t really. My buddy Joaquin and I were just victims of bad camera timing.  We’re both huge hockey fans, so we were smiling on the inside, trust me!

It was though the Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities (TLC) Toast to the Triangle event that we were able to visit with the Canes in the first place. I bid on a Canes’ auction item at the Toast event last year and won. The Canes locker room visit was a part of the deal.  It was definitely worth it! 

For those of you who haven’t heard about the Tammy Lynn Center, I urge you to visit their web site or Facebook page to learn more.  TLC does a wonderful job helping adults and children with developmental disabilities.  And as member of the TLC Board of Directors, I took this flag into the Hurricanes locker room with the hope that a few players would take a picture with us. 

Eric Cole and Zack Boychuck were nice enough to participate in the promotional picture you see here.  We also met Eric Staal and Rod Brind’amour. Even though I rooted for Team USA at the Olympics, I told Staal congratulations on winning the Gold Medal for Canada.   After all, I wanted to having been born in Canada myself!    

We also met Coach Paul Maurice, and it wasn’t just a quick ‘hello.’  We sat in his office for what seemed to be an eternity while he talked to us about hockey strategy, player personalities, and answered our questions.      Coach gained our respect for spending time with us when he clearly didn’t have to.   It was exciting to get insight on the game directly from Coach Maurice.

As I write this blog piece, I can’t help but notice something about this picture.   It’s probably the Immigration lawyer in me, but when I look at this picture I see a Canadian, an American, a Canadian/Indian/American, and a Cuban American.  That’s us, from left to right.  This picture represents America, the melting pot.  It’s a snap-shot of immigrants living in and helping this great country.

Some of the guys in the locker room mentioned that they had just become U.S. citizens, and one other asked me if he qualified for it.  I guess brand America is still in demand.   

So how does hockey fit into the immigration system?  Many of these hockey players are from other countries such as Russia, Canada, Slovakia, Finland and Poland.  For the Canes’ or any other hockey team to get a foreign player to the U.S., they will likely have to apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa.   In fact, there are special visa categories available to professional athletes from other countries.    Preparing the right strategy and applying for the appropriate visa is crucial to getting foreign athletes to the U.S. quickly.

Special thanks to our friends at TLC, Tripp Tracy, Coach Paul Maurice, the Hurricanes players, Maria Hernandez and everyone who allowed us to take a look inside the “Eye of the Hurricane.”  We will always remember this experience.

Go Canes!

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