NHL veteran joins disabled Israeli vets in five-day bike ride

Former NHL Keith Primeau, centre, takes part in the Courage in Motion Bike Ride in Israel, with his business partners, Mark Young, left, and Brian Young.

Former NHL player Keith Primeau was among more than 100 Canadians who cycled through Israel over five days this month, to raise funds for disabled veterans in that country.

This was the 11th Courage in Motion Bike Ride, which is organized by Beit Halochem Canada.

The goal of the ride is not only monetary, but inspirational. Participants come to appreciate the grit of those who served their country and paid a high price. Over 120 disabled veterans rode with the cyclists from abroad, using customized hand bikes or tandem bikes, in which a sighted rider pedals behind a veteran with limited vision. Some were on regular two-wheelers, despite having prostheses for lost limbs.

Primeau, 46, who retired in 2006 after 15 NHL seasons, joined his business partners, cousins Brian and Mark Young, owners of the Montreal-based company Rebox Corp.

Proceeds from the ride, which took place from Oct. 22-26, will go toward cycling programs at Beit Halochem centres, said Marilynne Friedman, Beit Halochem Canada’s publicity and foundations manager.

The scenic route this year began in the south of the country, at Mitzpe Ramon, and headed north to Jerusalem. It was demanding, but allowed time for leisure and touring. Stops along the way included Masada and the Dead Sea.


“Basically, it’s 30-60 miles a day and then in the evening, you get together and you enjoy one another’s company, you intermingle with the veterans,” Primeau, who lives in New Jersey, told NHL.com.

“At the same time, you also see a part of the world that has a lot of interest.” (This was his first trip to Israel.)

He wanted to support the Youngs in a charity that is dear to them. Their goal is to raise at least $10,000 for Beit Halochem. This year’s campaign remains open until Dec. 31.

Rebox, which is headquartered in St-Laurent, finds new purposes for used corrugated boxes that would otherwise go into recycling or waste bins.

“It’s not a competitive ride,” Primeau said before the start. “It’s not like I have to be at the front of the pack, or there’s time restrictions to complete it.”

Primeau, who’s originally from Toronto, was a centre who played 909 games with the Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and the Philadelphia Flyers.

His son, Cayden Primeau, a student at Northeastern University in Boston, is a Montreal Canadiens goalie prospect.

Lisa Levy, executive director of Beit Halochem Canada and founder of Courage in Motion, said: “We are so pleased to have Keith Primeau, a high-profile ex-NHLer, participate. Anything that raises awareness for the cause of helping our disabled Israeli veterans is welcome.

“I’m also gratified that the ride, once again, sold out this year – a month and a half prior to its start. Our cyclists like the unique aspect of riding alongside those who are directly helped by their fundraising.”

The next Courage in Motion ride is scheduled for Oct. 27-31, 2019.