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Isles Spread Holiday Cheer at Long Island Hospitals

The Islanders gave gifts and spread holiday cheer during their annual holiday hospital visits.

Wednesday, 12.18.2013 / 9:05 PM / News
By Cory Wright
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Isles Spread Holiday Cheer at Long Island Hospitals
The Islanders gave gifts and spread holiday cheer during their annual holiday hospital visits.
Click here for more photos from Wednesday's hospital visits.

Six-year-old Luke Lang was speechless as he stood before a table stacked steep with toys inside the Children’s Cancer Center at Winthrop University Hospital. It wasn’t the pile of games, stuffed animals and figurines that took his breath away; it was receiving his new toy football set from Evgeni Nabokov, his favorite Islander.

Lang lit up Wednesday, as Nabokov and teammates Thomas Vanek, Peter Regin and Andrew MacDonald dropped by Winthrop to deliver gifts, hang out with young patients and spread holiday cheer.

“It’s very humbling,” Richard Lang, Luke’s father, said. “It takes them away from what they go through on a daily basis. You can’t put words to it. This will be something they’ll have for the rest of their life.”

Luke, a huge Islanders fan, suffers from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and is currently staying in the Children’s Center at Winthrop’s main building. It’s a tough time for everyone: the brave six-year-old, his mother, father and eight-year-old brother Logan, but the entire family got to share in a special moment Wednesday.

“It’s great for the family,” his father said. “For a father to watch young men be this caring and passionate about these kids… it instills in you that there are people who do care about kids and what’s going on in their life.”

The entire team split off into groups and visited six Long Island hospitals Wednesday, going room-to-room, interacting with kids and putting smiles on faces. While the Islanders are active in the community all-year round, the hospitals visits hold a special place in their hearts.

“It’s tough to see kids in these types of situations,” MacDonald said. “It can be difficult for the parents too, but they really appreciate it. From a player perspective, being able to put a smile on their faces is pretty special and it’s an experience for us that we don’t forget. We really enjoy doing these visits and we take lot from them.”

The visits can put life into perspective for the players, who take a step back from the demands of the NHL season, to appreciate how fortunate they’ve been.

“When you come in here you are really thankful for what you have,” Vanek said. “There are a lot more things in life than just winning and losing hockey games.”

Vanek saw Wednesday through the perspective of a parent. He called the day bittersweet, as he handed out presents and signed autographs.

“It’s hard, especially because I have kids, so it’s hard to see other kids who are sick and hurting,” he said. “But it’s fun for us to go out and give them presents and get them to smile for a little bit and forget what’s going on.”

The players let the kids pick out what they wanted for the holiday season, but offered some suggestions. iPhone cases and headphones were popular with the teenagers, while dolls and Legos went to the younger boys and girls.

The players also gave ticket vouchers to the families, good for any date their children were out of the hospital and well-enough to attend a game.

The Islanders did their part Wednesday, spreading cheer to some of those who needed it most. And the next time the Langs and the other families see the Islanders, they’ll give the cheer back from the stands.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 66 31 36 5 67
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 66 14 28 22 42
B. Nelson 66 18 20 8 38
F. Nielsen 66 11 26 13 37
A. Lee 60 22 13 14 35
J. Bailey 54 13 20 13 33
J. Boychuk 56 7 25 15 32
N. Leddy 66 9 19 17 28
T. Hamonic 56 4 21 16 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 34 13 1 .911 2.48
C. Johnson 8 8 1 .889 3.08

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