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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 61 40 16 5 167 135 85
2 NYI 63 41 20 2 202 174 84
3 NYR 60 38 16 6 190 148 82
4 TBL 63 38 19 6 207 167 82
5 DET 60 34 15 11 176 156 79
6 PIT 61 35 17 9 176 152 79
7 WSH 63 33 20 10 184 159 76
8 BOS 61 30 22 9 161 160 69
9 FLA 61 26 22 13 145 172 65
10 PHI 62 26 25 11 164 181 63
11 OTT 59 26 23 10 167 161 62
12 NJD 62 25 27 10 139 164 60
13 CBJ 60 26 30 4 157 189 56
14 TOR 61 25 31 5 170 185 55
15 CAR 60 23 30 7 137 159 53
16 BUF 62 19 38 5 120 207 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 63 29 35 4 64
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 63 14 26 21 40
B. Nelson 63 17 19 6 36
F. Nielsen 63 11 25 12 36
A. Lee 57 20 12 12 32
J. Bailey 51 12 19 10 31
J. Boychuk 53 7 22 15 29
N. Leddy 63 8 17 14 25
T. Hamonic 53 4 20 16 24
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 33 13 0 .911 2.46
C. Johnson 8 7 1 .890 2.95

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