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Islanders make Christmas dreams come true

The Islanders players shopped for toys for sick children spending holidays in Long Island and Queens hospitals.

Friday, 12.10.2010 / 11:53 AM / News
By David Hochman
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Islanders make Christmas dreams come true
There was a chill in the air on the morning of December 7. The blustery day felt like Christmas was long gone and the middle of winter was upon us. The sun hadn’t yet peaked over the horizon and the highways and stores were empty – except for one.

The New York Islanders shed their winter coats and ice skates and threw on their orange and blue sweaters inside the Toys“R”Us in Carle Place for the Islanders annual Holiday Hospital Toy Shopping event, sponsored by EmblemHealth. More than half the team came together to buy gifts for the area’s hospitalized children.

“This is one of the most touching events we participate in all year,” said Islanders Community Relations Manager Ann Rina. “It’s really important for the players to pick out the toys they actually bring to the hospitals. It makes it a little bit deeper of a connection and all the guys enjoy it. It’s an early morning, but once they get here, they have a lot of fun with it.”

Each player had their own strategy and teammate to work with. John Tavares picked out video games, while Rick DiPietro snagged Twilight DVD’s and Blake Comeau browsed board games. A few aisles down, PA Parenteau was checking out hockey sticks and James Wisniewski was stocking up on Justin Bieber action figures.

Defenseman Mark Eaton strolled through the aisles with his wife, Dorrie, filling their shopping carts with boxes upon boxes of dolls. The Eatons have two daughters of their own, giving them a leg up on some of the other players in deciding what toys were best. Even though the presents weren’t for their own little girls, the smiles never left either of their faces.

“It’s an opportunity for us to give back to the community,” Eaton said. “It’s one of the perks of being a professional athlete. Days like today are fun.”

When the cash registers finally cleared, the players had selected over 400 presents to distribute to children across six hospitals on Long Island.

None of the players seemed to have more fun than Zenon Konopka, who stacked his arms high with Barbie dolls and was heard over the Toys“R”Us loudspeaker more than once.

“Clean up in aisle five, PA Parenteau spilled his latte,” Konopka chirped. “That’s clean up in aisle five.”

Konopka’s just a kid at heart and was being himself on this memorable day.

“You try to put yourself into their shoes to figure out what they would want,” Konopka told Islanders TV. “A lot of people say I act like a ten-year-old sometimes, so I used that to my advantage today and I think it worked out pretty well.”

The players loosened up in the toy store, joking with their teammates and family members who joined them, but never forgot how important the event was. These toys will go to a very special group of kids who need that extra bit of joy in their lives come the holiday season.

Islanders captain Doug Weight was joined by his wife, Allison, for the shopping spree. With three children of their own, helping out some young ones in need was a no-brainer.

“It’s a special day next week, being able to distribute these toys to the kids,” Weight said. “It’s a very humbling experience, especially at this time of the year with all the holidays coming up.”

That special day is December 14, when the entire roster will act like impromptu Santas and hand deliver the toys themselves.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 64 30 35 4 65
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 64 14 27 22 41
B. Nelson 64 17 19 7 36
F. Nielsen 64 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 58 20 13 13 33
J. Bailey 52 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 54 7 23 16 30
N. Leddy 64 8 18 15 26
T. Hamonic 54 4 21 15 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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