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Blandisi: In grieving, giving back

MONTREAL – In the face of great pain, Joseph Blandisi has chosen to alleviate the hurt of others.

On Monday, Blandisi lost his beloved grandfather, Frank Guglietti, and the Laval Rocket forward wasted little time figuring out a way to pay tribute to a man who was an influential figure in his life.

Blandisi started a GoFundMe shortly after his grandfather’s passing to raise money for Holiday Helpers Canada, an organization whose mission is “to provide a one-time personalized Christmas package to families with young children living in low-income situations who are trying to improve their circumstances.”

The 26-year-old believes that helping make the holiday season a bit easier for those who are struggling is the perfect way of honoring Guglietti.

“He was really the leader of our crew. It’s obviously hard to say bye to him but just in his memory, I wanted to keep his legacy alive,” shared Blandisi, who was acquired in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins in February. “I think a start to that would be for me to team up with this Holiday Helpers [organization] and give back to the families of the less fortunate during the holiday season. I know he would appreciate that a lot.

“He meant a lot to me, and I think the biggest lesson he taught me is the value of family, and he instilled that in all of us at a very young age. He had four kids on his own. He moved here from Italy at a young age and developed such a big family.”

After emigrating from Italy, Guglietti quickly embraced Canada’s national pastime and put all his kids in hockey. In fact, his daughter – Blandisi’s mom – still plays goalie in a women’s league to this day. It goes without saying, then, that Blandisi could count on his grandfather’s support all throughout his hockey career.

“I honestly remember my last year in the OHL when he started having his health problems, which was six years ago now. I was waiting for the OHL to be finished because I really wanted him to see my first NHL game, and he made it to see 100 now,” recounted Blandisi, a veteran of 101 NHL contests with the New Jersey Devils, Anaheim Ducks, and Penguins. “It’s pretty special to me that I never knew if he was even going to be able to see my first pro game, and he just passed away now, six years later. He taught me a lesson on how to fight; he fought every day for the last little while.”

Patiently waiting for some puck

In September, Blandisi signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Canadiens and the Markham native has been hard at work getting ready for next season. And while joining a new organization right before the pandemic might make for a weird situation for some, Blandisi sees only opportunity in the cards he’s been dealt.

“There’s just a lot of eagerness for me. I don’t even know if I was there for a complete month since I got traded, and then I know I spent 10 days injured right when I got there. I felt like I didn’t really get a chance to get my feet wet in the organization, and I want them to know who I am. I just want to get there and make familiar faces, make friendships, develop relationships, and showcase my game, too,” outlined Blandisi, who had one goal and three assists in four games in Laval before the league shutdown. “I think I have a lot to offer that the organization can be excited about, but I’m just waiting for my chance to showcase it.”

To contribute to Blandisi’s GoFundMe for Holiday Helpers Canada, click here.

For more information on Holiday Helpers Canada, click here.