NHL Teams Donate $10,000 to Fan Who Warned Equipment Manager of Cancerous Mole

The NHL's Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks have teamed up to donate $10,000 towards a fan's education after she warned the Canucks' equipment manager of a cancerous mole during a game.

Medical student Nadia Popovici, 22, attended the Kraken's first-ever home game Oct. 23, snagging seats on the glass directly behind the Canucks players' bench. It was then that she noticed an alarming-looking mole on the back of the neck of Canucks' assistant equipment manager Brian "Red" Hamilton.

"I saw his [mole] and I was like, wow, that is a picture-perfect example of what a melanoma looks like," Popovici stated, adding that her time volunteering in a local oncology ward allowed her to easily identify the mole as cancerous.

Popovici began banging on the glass to get Hamilton's attention and typed out a message to him on her cell phone: "The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!"

Hamilton later admitted that the message "threw me off."

"So I kind of just shrugged and kept going. My initial response when I found out was I felt bad because I felt like I didn't really give her the time of day," Hamilton continued.

Kraken Canucks
Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici recognized a cancerous mole on the back of the neck of Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Red Hamilton, leading to his mole removal. Here, Popovici, behind the glass in a blue beanie, and Hamilton can be seen greeting each other at the Canucks game against the Kraken on New Year's Day. Steph Chambers/Getty

However, the message worried Hamilton, and after consulting with the Canucks' team doctor, he decided to have the mole removed and biopsied. The test showed that the mole was a type-2 malignant melanoma that, although potentially dangerous, was able to be effectively treated because it was detected early.

"She took me out of a slow fire," Hamilton stated during a press conference. "The words out of the doctor's mouth were if I ignored that [mole] for four to five years, I wouldn't be here."

After being given the all-clear from his doctors, Hamilton made it his mission to find Popovici and thank her. The equipment manager, through the Canucks' social media channels, posted a letter asking for help identifying the woman that had helped save his life.

"I want you all to know that this isn't about me. It's about an incredible person taking the time to notice something concerning and then finding a way to point it out during the chaos of a hockey game," the letter said. "We are looking for this incredible person and we need you to share this with your friends and families to help us find a real-life hero."

Through the power of the internet, Popovici was identified within hours, and the Kraken and Canucks both invited her to the team's next matchup in Seattle this past Saturday to meet Hamilton.

The two reunited at the game, where Hamilton thanked Popovici for getting his attention, admitting that her reaching out urged him to get the mole checked.

"It was your effort, and your persistence ... I owe it to this person to get checked," Hamilton told Popovici. "I don't know her, I don't know what she knows, I don't know anything about her. I need to get this checked."

Popovici, a graduate of the University of Washington, is planning on attending medical school, and the Canucks and Kraken combined to donate $10,000 towards her education. The Kraken also surprised her with a video tribute on the team's scoreboard, to which she received a standing ovation.

"Some people are saying this is not even going to be a drop in the bucket, but trust me, it feels like everything," Popovici said afterward. "I'm really just so grateful."

Newsweek has reached out to the NHL for comment.