Wild honor Minnesota's roots in recovery & addiction treatment

Image 1 of 2

The Minnesota Wild honored the state’s roots in recovery and addiction treatment during Tuesday's game at the Xcel Energy Center.

Now in its second year, Recovery Night has nearly doubled in size. And for some in the crowd, this sporting event is more than just a game.

“To celebrate hockey and to come to the Wild game with a bunch of sober guys and girls is a lot of fun," said Danny Mattson, a member of Recovery Community Hockey, a weekly pick-up hockey league with men and women who are sober.

Mattson is one of the 500 people attending Recovery Night to celebrate their sobriety with others who are in the same situation.

“I knew there was a desire for people in recovery to go to sporting events, but it’s not that easy for a lot of them because there is such a culture of drinking tied in with sports,” he said.

“For them to come out to a sporting event together makes them feel safe,” added Jared Jenkins with the Minnesota Wild. 

As part of the pre-game event, two-time Stanley Cup champion Derek Sanderson shared his story at a special meeting with others in recovery.

“I ended up sleeping under bridges in Central Park, eating out of dumpsters, stealing and mugging people," he said.

The former Boston Bruin said he's been sober since 1980, but his alcoholism destroyed his career.

“They are not alone. There's a lot of us in this," Sanderson said.

Regardless of who won the game, for some, celebrating being sober is the ultimate goal.

“There are fun things to do when you get sober, and hockey can be one of them," Jenkins said.

Jenkins said Recovery Night has been so popular here he hopes it can expand to other teams around the NHL.