Brandon Saad‘s young NHL career has seen him achieve plenty of on-ice success.
It has also brought the Columbus Blue Jackets winger the opportunity to help those closest to him, including a number of his Syrian relatives who have had to flee the country as a result of the ongoing civil war.
Saad’s father, George, moved to the United States from Syria at age 18. He later earned two university degrees and became a U.S. citizen. Most of George’s family members stayed behind in Syria.
Since the war broke out, Brandon and his family have been working hard to bring some of their Syrian relatives to the United States, where they have relocated to Pittsburgh (where Saad and his family are from) and have received plenty of help from Brandon and his parents.
“You try to help out as much as you can. My dad has worked hard to be successful so he can help them as well. But any way I can help I’m always here for them,” Saad told the Guardian. “They know that. I’ve gotten pretty close with them over the short period of time.”
Though Saad doesn't have the experience of immigrating to a new country like his dad does, he is able to lend a hand financially, sponsoring many of his relatives.
“Most of them are over here now and the ones that aren’t here yet they’re safe back home,” Saad said. “So really no issues there, everything’s been good with that so that’s always good to hear.”
Of course, the two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Chicago Blackhawks has also had the opportunity to introduce his family to the game of hockey.
“They’ve become huge fans of the sport and love watching me play,” he explained. “It’s pretty funny to interact and kind of see them see things for the first time. They’ve definitely all taken an interest in it because of me.”
Saad said he has not only enjoyed getting to know his father's extended family, but getting the chance to learn from them, too.
“It’s definitely an eye-opener with them coming over and getting adjusted to the lifestyle and the new language and things like that,” he said. “It definitely puts things in perspective for you.”
Saad said he has traveled to Syria once, as a young child, but would cherish the chance to visit once there is peace again.
“It’s a beautiful country that and I’d love to go back and see where my dad is from,” Saad said. “I think that would be a great trip.”