Mackinley Whalen, 11, recently got to watch almost a whole period of NHL hockey with her favourite player, Ryan Kesler, because of a letter she sent wishing him a speedy recovery from his injury. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Young Campbell River hockey fan gets to hang with her hockey hero

Mackinkley Whalen, 11, wrote a ‘get well soon’ card to Ryan Kesler and got a heck of a surprise

One young Campbell River hockey player – and fan – recently had a very, very good day down in Anaheim.

Mackinley Whalen, 11, picked up on Ryan Kesler when he was a Vancouver Canuck. She wasn’t really a fan of the team – her parents are both Montreal Canadiens fans, after all – but she certainly did like “that number 17 guy,” she says, and when he was traded to Anaheim, her fandom followed.

“If he was traded to Toronto, I’d probably be a Leafs fan,” she says.

“No you wouldn’t,” interrupts her mom April, half-jokingly.

So when Kesler went down with injury earlier this season, she decided to write him a letter wishing him a speedy recovery and letting him know they were going to be down that way with tickets to a pair of games.

“At first I was sad that you will not be playing,” the letter reads, “but I just want you to get better soon. If you are around the arena for those games and feel like some popcorn I’m willing to share mine with you.”

The letter included her seat number for each game.

Apparently, April had added her cell number to the letter before it was sent, because she got a text message from Kesler letting them know he planned on joining them during the Ducks/Predators game Nov. 3. She didn’t tell Mackinley, though, because she thought it would be better as a surprise.

“It was so awesome,” Mackinley says. “He came down and I thought, ‘is this a fake person trying to tease me or a joke or something?’ but then he sat with me and had popcorn…and watched almost the full period with me.”

“He was so down to Earth and engaging,” April says. “He was genuinely interested in everything she had to say. Even my husband said, ‘I wanted to hate the guy, but I couldn’t. He was so nice.’”

The Whalen’s go down to the U.S. fairly frequently to watch hockey, because it’s actually significantly less expensive than going over for a game in Vancouver.

“We can fly down to Anaheim or Florida for a game and including the flights and hotels it’s still cheaper than going to a Canucks home game,” April says. “You can get into a game down there for like $16.”

And while they’re down there watching hockey, they can see some other things, as well.

“My mom made me go to Disneyland,” Mackinley says. “But I just wanted to watch hockey.”

Mckinley is quite the athlete herself. She plays for two local hockey teams – one mixed and one girls’ team – as well as being as burgeoning golfer. She is currently enrolled in a golf academy in Parksville with hopes to maybe one day become a professional golfer.

“But I’d like to play hockey professionally, too,” she says. “I like golf, but I love hockey. It’s my passion.”

Just Posted

Indigenous culture celebrated in Campbell River

Kwanwatsi Big House event followed by march to Spirit Square

Campbell River’s Canyon View Trail loop to be opened up by end of summer

Interpretive panels and two new totem poles to be installed on old powerhouse site

Campbell River imposes total fire ban – includes campfires and beach fires

With hot dry conditions and high fire risk, the City of Campbell… Continue reading

Multigenerational pain of residential schools lingers for Campbell River residents

Cycles of substance abuse and tragedy linked to colonial policies

Protesters rally in Victoria over newly approved Trans Mountain pipeline

The Still No Consent! No Trans Mountain! 20 kilometre march will end at Island View Beach

Wildfire burning in coastal forest

A fire beside the Sea to Sky Highway is burning up a steep slope

PHOTOS: Event marks one year since soccer team rescued from Thai cave

Nine players and coach took part in marathon and bike event to help improve conditions at cave

Rock climber dies after fall at Stawamus Chief in Squamish

The man had fallen about 30 metres while climbing in the Grand Wall area

Five B.C. students taken to hospital after playing with vaping device

School district said students were taken to hospital ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Being a pot dealer is not what it used to be

Sunday Big Read: the business of selling marijuana in B.C. is a slow bureaucratic slog

VIDEO: Two more pride flags have been stolen from Langley woman

Lisa Ebenal was “angry” and “fed up” after the latest theft. Then people started showing suppport

B.C. couple who has raised 58 children turns to community amid cancer diagnosis

Family who raised, fostered and adopted many kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Canucks acquire forward J.T. Miller from Lightning

J.T. Miller, 26, had 13 goals and 34 assists for the Lightning last season

Most Read