An intimate look at junior hockey through the eyes of four South Asian players as they compete to find success in Canada’s national sport.
Hockey is Canada’s National sport. Hockey conjures up images of winters spent on makeshift home rinks, community and a pride in being Canadian. While the sport itself remains largely dominated by white players, its audience - and its future - lie elsewhere. OUT OF THE STANDS follows four South Asian Junior Hockey players as they strive to make the NHL.
“You people that come here…you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy.”
These words were spoken by Don Cherry, Canada’s Patron saint of Hockey, on November 9th, 2019. Cherry set his sights on people of colour he believed to be un-Canadian for not wearing poppies on Remembrance Day. His words sparked a National debate about racism in hockey.
Set within this broader context, OUT OF THE STANDS follows four South Asian Canadian hockey hopefuls and their families throughout the 2021-2022 season. Arshdeep Bains, (LW/20), the 5th leading scorer in the Western Hockey League, fights to get noticed by the NHL in his final junior season. Kayden Sadhra-Kang (D/18), and Arjun Bawa (F/16), sons of Robin Bawa, the first South Asian to play in the NHL, fight to uphold their father’s pathbreaking legacy while adjusting to life in small town Canada. Finally, there is Arvin Atwal (D/25) a seasoned player looking to lose the fighter reputation cultivated by the American Hockey League by playing in Slovakia in the hope of getting back to the NHL.
At the centre of this is HARB BAINS, the only South Asian hockey association president who proudly wears a turban, beard, and cowboy boots! As owner of the Lake Cowichan Kraken, Harb hopes he can help advance diversity in hockey by buying a piece of equity.
The stakes and drama are high; not just for the players, but for their parents, their communities, and Canada. Will they find success and be accepted in this game and country as who they are? OUT OF THE STANDS is a story full of celebrations, hip-checks, victories and defeats. This is Hoop Dreams on ice.
The drama in this character driven film comes from the journey of the four main characters as they compete to get drafted to the NHL.
ARSHDEEP BAINS is the undrafted 20 year old star of the Western Hockey League. For the past few seasons ARSHDEEP has been the top scorer on the powerhouse Red Deer Rebels led by the legendary NHLer Brent Sutter. Arsh is out to prove himself again in his final season of juniors in the hopes of being invited to NHL training camps in the summer of 2022.
ARVIN ATWAL. Once a star in the WHL Arvin, now 25, went undrafted and into the AHL where in an attempt to shed the stereotype of being soft he became a fighter. A couple busted shoulders later Arvin decided the only way to get back into contention for the NHL was to go to Europe. He is now in Slovakia where he was brought in for his skill. With a great smile and an immigrant child's work ethic Arvin is getting notice again and looking to move to the top European tier.
KAYDEN SADHRA-KANG is an 18 year old 6’5” defenceman fighting to be seen as the top line defenceman they have been searching for. Kayden started the season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes but was unexpectedly traded to the outpost town of Swift Current where the main attraction is the team that he plays for. Kayden’s life here is a far cry from his life in Vancouver. Good natured and intelligent, Kayden is focused on his game which has taken flight even while he adjusts to small town living.
ARJUN BAWA is a 16 year old in search of his own path to fame and glory following in the skates of his groundbreaking NHL father, ROBIN BAWA. Arjun started the season on the Rebels but switched to the British Columbia Hockey League to play for his father’s hometown team the Cowichan Capitals. Arjun’s play has steadily improved as he adjusts to living with his grandparents and aunt in their multi-generational home on Vancouver Island.
Baljit Sangra | Director & Producer
Baljit Sangra is a filmmaker passionate about under-represented stories, whether it be the impact of sexual abuse on a family in the award winning feature documentary BECAUSE WE ARE GIRLS, to understanding why South Asian youth have become vulnerable to gangs in WARRIOR BOYZ, to end of life and challenges for seniors in Care in MANY RIVERS HOME, or reflecting on South Asian pioneer history with HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ME.
Nilesh Patel | Director & Producer
Nilesh Patel is a producer and director focused on telling the stories of us coming together. His first dramatic work was the CityTV mockumentary 7 to 11, Indian. Following this he directed his multiple-award winning feature documentary Brocket 99 - Rocking the Country. Nilesh is currently directing and producing Out of the Stands while also continuing to advocate for racial equity in our film and television industry.