Hellebuyck and Melanie MacKinnon named NHL’s Co-First Stars of the Week

Press Release

Hellebuyck leads the NHL in shots against (1,014), saves (934), and minutes played (1,960)

WINNIPEG, April 12, 2021 – The Winnipeg Jets, in conjunction with the National Hockey League, today announced that goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and the First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Team’s Melanie MacKinnon have been named the NHL’s Co-First Stars of the Week for the week ending April 11, 2021.

Hellebuyck, 27, started the week with a 20-save effort in Winnipeg’s 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. On Thursday, the Commerce, Mich. native stopped 36-of-38 shots in a 4-2 victory in Montreal over the Canadiens. Hellebuyck capped the week by stopping all 19 shots in a 5-0 shutout win over those same Canadiens on Saturday. The reigning Vezina Trophy winner led the NHL with three wins last week, while posting a miniscule .938 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average to help the Jets to a perfect 3-0-0 week and vault the club into second place in the Scotia North Division.

On the season, Hellebuyck leads the NHL in shots against (1,014), saves (934), and minutes played (1,960) and is tied for first in games played (33) and third in wins (20). The 2012 fifth round pick (130th overall) has started six straight games and has a 4-1-1 record with a 1.66 goals-against and a .943 save percentage in those half-dozen starts.

MacKinnon serves as the executive director of the University of Manitoba’s Ongomiizwin – Health Services (OHS) team. In response to the pandemic, she has been coordinating Manitoba’s First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Teams, a network of skilled healthcare professionals – including doctors, nurses and rehabilitation specialists – who quickly respond to urgent situations in remote and isolated communities across the province. When these communities experience COVID-19 cases and outbreaks, the First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Teams are deployed, often within 48 hours, to tend to pressing needs.

These teams are comprised of many Indigenous healthcare professionals as well as others who have committed their careers to serving Manitoba’s Indigenous and First Nations communities. They assist with contact tracing and isolation planning, bring rapid point-of-care testing equipment, establish testing sites, and schedule community members for testing – which helps contain clusters. They also collaborate with various levels of government and healthcare organizations to arrange transportation, food delivery and additional healthcare professionals to contribute to relief efforts.

This is the first time this season and the third time in his career that Hellebuyck has been selected in the NHL’s Three Stars of the Week (also First Star on January 1, 2018 and Second Star on January 22, 2018). He is the second Jets player to be selected in 2020-21 after Winnipeg had three appearances in the Three Stars of the Week last season. Hellebuyck along with Nikolaj Ehlers (March 15 – Third Star) are members of the Jets that have earned NHL Three Stars of the Week honours this season.


NHL Healthcare Heroes – Melanie MacKinnon

MacKinnon, and the Manitoba First Nations Pandemic Rapid Response Team, earn recognition!

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a rapidly changing healthcare environment, with planning and preparation focused in all areas of the health system on being able to identify and respond to outbreaks quickly, regardless of where they occur. In Manitoba, with many rural and remote communities separated by vast distances and with access limited to air, water or ice road, rapid response has required a whole new level of teamwork and coordination.

That’s where the First Nations Pandemic Response Coordination Team (PRCT) comes in. With representatives from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakinak, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba, Keewationohk Inniniw Minoayawin and the University of Manitoba Rady Faculty of Health Sciences Ongomiizwin Health Services, the team supports data and surveillance information that allows for the rapid identification of outbreak situations in Manitoba First Nation communities.

In the early days of COVID-19, in anticipation that a need would exist for rapid surge response to communities in need of support, the PRCT activated Pandemic Rapid Response Teams. Coordinated through Ongomiizwin Health Services and led by Melanie MacKinnon, the organization’s Executive Director, the Rapid Response Teams are made up of various health care professionals (doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, and many others) with close connections to Manitoba’s First Nations Communities.

“With multiple jurisdictions responsible for health care, COVID has required us to collaborate in a way we have never collaborated before, by looking at how we could build capacity with resources already here and working with the various partner organizations,” says MacKinnon. “We have leveraged every personal and professional relationship we have, to build the biggest suspension bridge to reconcile any jurisdictional gaps in real time.”

Rapid Response Teams are deployed quickly, often within 24-48 hours of support being requested. Response levels vary according to the needs of the community, ranging from the delivery of rapid testing equipment and several days of training to the arrival of a full team of health care workers to support the local health workforce and community leadership, often for several weeks. The data and surveillance work, best in class in the country, has allowed for quick identification of cases or an outbreak situation in a community, with every situation needing a unique response.

MacKinnon is quick to credit partners and the leadership of each community and the local pandemic response teams, with the success of efforts to contain and manage outbreaks during Manitoba’s second wave.

“Unlike a larger community, it doesn’t take much for critical community infrastructure to be impacted if individuals in key roles become infected or are required to isolate. In most successful deployments, our team supplements the existing community resources and works under the leadership of the local clinical team and with the broader community. Our team is an asset but we cannot stand alone without that community support system.”

Through the fall of 2020 and into early 2021, more than twenty communities have made the request for support from the Rapid Response Teams. The teams’ ability to bring rapid testing equipment, train local staff, set up testing sites and support contact tracing and isolation for those exposed to the virus, has proven extremely valuable in helping local pandemic response teams manage outbreaks in their communities, in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner.

“We all come from community, either because that is where our families are from or because we have spent our careers working in Indigenous communities or with one of the partner organizations,” says MacKinnon. “From my experience, the arrival of the rapid response team has been met by a sense of relief and gratitude that help has arrived.”

“We saw what happened in 2009 with H1N1 and we knew our response to COVID-19 needed to be different. This time, we were going to lead and bridge systems, we were going to be prepared, we were going to act quickly, and we were going to send professionals when help was needed.”


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