Kesler takes a timeout from training to speak up against domestic violence in new PSA

Ryan Kesler is lending his name and his face to aid awareness of domestic violence and community services dedicated to dealing with its effects.

The Canucks centre was in Vancouver on Friday to film a public service announcement on behalf of the B.C. Society of Transition Houses through the Game Changers program promoted by snack company Popchips.

“I’ve never known anyone personally who was affected but I picked this charity because I feel strongly about it,” said Kesler, who’s back training full-time after labrum surgery to his left shoulder six weeks ago.

“Too many kids are going through this. Violence against women is not right and when you involve kids. I have kids myself and I couldn’t imagine my kids going through something like that.”

As part of the Game Changers program, a short list of five possible charities was submitted to Kesler and he chose the B.C. Society of Transition Houses.

Shabna Ali, executive director of the B.C. Society of Transition Houses, said having a high profile athlete such as Kesler speak on its behalf gives the issue a huge boost.

“It does amazing things for us,” said Ali. “Not only does it bring the issues of violence and children into the lives of children and youth in classrooms across B.C., but it also says to kids who are exposed to this issue in their home that they’re not alone. And they’re hearing it from someone they recognize and they admire. Him speaking on this issue will really bring some light to it.”

The BCSTH is a non-profit organization that supports agencies who run transition houses for mothers and their children who witness abuse.

A spokeswoman for Popchips confirmed that the athletes involved in the Game Changers program – there are 14, with Maple Leafs’ Tyler Bozak the only other player in Canada – are paid “a very small contribution” for their time.

Kesler, meanwhile, said his training is going well.

“The first week was pretty bad, but after that it’s been great,” he said. “Training doesn’t limit me too much. Upper body is tougher, so you do one-arm stuff. But I’m still going to the gym five days a week, going to rehab three days a week. It’s right on schedule. I’m able to do most things I couldn’t do last summer. With the longer summer it’s helped both my injuries. The hip is as strong as it’s ever been.”

Kesler’s surgery is expected to keep him out until some time in November, but don’t think he might try coming back early. He fell into that trap last season and regretted it.

“I’m going to take the full time and just get to 100 per cent and make sure I’m not playing catch up,” he said. “Last year, I wasn’t playing at 100 per cent and that isn’t fun. I’m going to wait the full time.”

With lots of uncertainty about a new collective bargaining agreement and speculation that the season may be delayed as a result, Kesler may not end up missing that much time anyway.

“I think everybody is on the same page,” said Kesler. “Don Fehr (NHLPA executive director) is night and day from before. I actually understand the CBA now. He’s really helped our union out. Hopefully, we can all sort this out and start on time. But you never know. It’s very cloudy right now.”

Kesler said he doesn’t take any solace from the Canucks’ ouster in the first round by the Los Angeles Kings, even though they went on to win the Stanley Cup.

“You’ve got to give them credit,” he said. “They played well. I don’t think as a team we played well. I think top to bottom we all need to be better. Does it soften the blow? Not that much. I didn’t watch any of the playoffs after we lost out.”

jjamieson@theprovince.com

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