Spotted! Rona takes to the ice with the Leafs

The home improvement hardware store and floundering hockey team spent $125,000 and 500 volunteer hours cleaning up an outdoor rink in Toronto.

The Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t winning many hockey games these days, but, with Rona’s help, the team won over a lot of fans Wednesday with the refurbishment of a local outdoor rink and a public practice.

Hundreds of parents and their children showed up to watch the team and get autographs from the players before taking to the ice themselves for a public skate. Rona branded the boards and had games set up for the young fans around the rink.

The home improvement hardware chain has refurbished four rinks (and 18 other public spaces) over the past two years with the MLSE Team Up Foundation Legacy Program, and though it’s good PR for the company, it’s really about doing something for the kids, Luc Rodier, VP, operations, Ontario, Rona, tells MiC.

‘Hockey is such a big part of the DNA of everybody in Canada,’ he says. ‘It’s a deep root in every community, and it’s a good way to give back to the community. We’re deeply involved with sports…for us, if we can support the kids before they get to that level and teach them fair play and let them have fun, it’s such a great way of giving back.’

Rona materials were incorporated into the field house beside the rink in Toronto’s Trinity Bellwoods Park, and MLSE and the City put up money to refurbish the rink with new boards and a new floor under the ice. Combined, the three partners chipped in $125,000 in money and materials and 500 volunteer hours.

This Spotted! comes courtesy of strategy account manager Neil Ewen, who spied the Rona sponsorship of the annual practice on his way into work yesterday.