Paul Bissonnette was out having a beer with his buddy, Cal O’Connor, on Friday night when former Coyotes teammate Keith Yandle called him out for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has become a thing for athletes and sports figures in the past couple weeks.
The following morning, Bissonnette answered the call, turning in the best Ice Bucket Challenge to date.
"I thought we were just having drunk talk that night, but the whole time I’m talking, my buddy is texting people setting it all up so I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it," Bissonnette said. "I figured if we’re going to do this, let’s be idiots about it and do another shock-value thing."
On Saturday morning, pilot Bradley Friesen flew Bissonnette and members of a Transposition Films crew up to Lake Widgeon, a mountain lake near Vancouver, in a helicopter.
With Bissonnette in nothing but a Speedo (yes, he owns it) and proper hockey footwear, the crew dumped glacier water from a huge black tub in the helicopter over Bissonnette’s head.
"People don’t realize I was wearing my skates, and that’s why I was crouching down," Bissonnette said. "When the water hit me with the wind, I would have been knocked over the ledge because I was standing with blades on rocks."
On Monday, Bissonnette teased the film on Twitter. On Tuesday, the video went live on YouTube. As of Wednesday morning, it had more than 300,000 views.
One of those was from Yandle.
"I was watching it with my mom," Yandle said, laughing. "You knew he wasn’t going to have a regular bathing suit or proper attire on. My eyes were scarred, but they’ve been scarred for the last five or six years, or however long I’ve been playing with him."
Yandle got involved with the cause because a friend of a friend suffers from ALS, but he was duly impressed by how far Bissonnette went.
"It just shows you how good of a guy he is," Yandle said. "For him to go out of his way when he has no connection to the disease or anyone, and then to do it the way he did it is amazing."
The goal of the Ice Bucket Challenge is to raise awareness and funds for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
Bissonnette took some criticism for the money spent on the film from people who thought that money should have just been donated. But Bissonnette said the entire crew donated its own time and money, and Bissonnette is also donating money to ALS.
"I think the attention ALS gets because of this will do way more for the cause than just my donation," he said. "We knew it would go viral."
Bissonnette called on NFL QBs Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson to follow suit (Rodgers has since accepted another challenge from Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.) He also called out NBA star LeBron James, who has yet to respond.
"If LeBron fires back with his 14 million Twitter followers, it will have a huge effect," Bissonnette said.