Students at Golden Secondary School had the opportunity last Friday (Oct. 9) to listen to Harnarayan Singh, host of Hockey Night in Punjabi (HNIP).
Singh covered topics ranging from life inside the NHL Bubble in Edmonton, to starting his career and growing HNIP, to racism he experienced growing up.
Originally from the small Alberta town of Brooks, Singh says he understands how important it is to bring his message to places like Golden, to hopefully bring some inspiration to the idea anyone can achieve their goals and dreams.
“It’s important to give a message of hope and inspiration,” said Singh.
“I know it’s sometimes not easy for certain people and I really want to be there to provide that inspiration, that if I can make it anyone can achieve their goals and dreams.”
Singh describes himself as an avid hockey fan growing up, wearing jerseys to school everyday. Singh says he quickly became known as a “hockey-obsessed nut,” helping him forge friendships during his school days.
His passion for the game pushed him to pursue a career in the sport, deciding he wanted to be a hockey commentator from a young age.
“People would laugh at me,” said Singh.
“They’d then ask what I really wanted to be and it would bother me inside.
“As I got older, more people would say, ‘Well, you can’t be a hockey commentator, there’s nobody that looks like you on TV.’”
Now, Singh has been on TV for almost 15 years with HNIP and has covered the NHL across multiple platforms.
He was even invited to the Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup parade in 2016, after one of his calls of a Nick Bonino goal went viral within the Penguins fan community.
It was there he found out that HNIP had a cult following among Penguins fans, with Penguins coach Mike Sullivan even saying how important his calls were to the team’s championship run.
As he’s watched HNIP grow, he’s seen the impact that his rising visibility has had on growing the game and how it’s helped others feel welcome in the hockey community.
“I see it in my kids. I don’t have to worry about them feeling that they don’t have a place now because they see people like themselves on TV,” said Singh.
“It’s so important. It’s helped open the doors for the community and for others after me. It helps them feel proud of the community and feel more Canadian.
“There’s quite a big following fan wise and playing wise in the community.
“They’re huge fans all across Canada.”
Singh recently released a memoir that explores his childhood and the challenges that have helped shaped his career, titled One Game at a Time: My Journey from Small-Town Alberta to Hockey’s Biggest Stage.
His book goes more into depth on what it took for him to go from small town Alberta to fulfilling his dream as a hockey commentator.
Throughout the book, he says he tries to keep things positive and promote that message of hope.
“Respect, equality and inclusion are key ideals that I want the students to be aware of when considering other people’s experiences.
“We have to stay positive and try to be thankful for what we have, and be grateful for how that’s the only way you can get through these obstacles.”