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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

HOME
AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 51 32 15 4 166 133 68
2 MTL 48 32 13 3 128 108 67
3 DET 50 29 12 9 149 129 67
4 NYI 49 32 16 1 158 139 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 BOS 50 27 16 7 134 124 61
7 NYR 47 28 15 4 139 112 60
8 WSH 49 25 14 10 144 125 60
9 FLA 47 21 16 10 115 132 52
10 PHI 51 22 22 7 140 151 51
11 OTT 48 20 19 9 136 136 49
12 TOR 51 22 25 4 144 156 48
13 NJD 50 19 22 9 113 138 47
14 CBJ 48 21 24 3 120 151 45
15 CAR 49 17 26 6 105 129 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Tavares 49 23 25 -1 48
K. Okposo 46 14 30 -2 44
R. Strome 49 9 25 15 34
B. Nelson 49 15 16 5 31
F. Nielsen 49 9 18 4 27
J. Boychuk 39 4 21 15 25
J. Bailey 37 8 14 7 22
N. Leddy 49 7 14 13 21
N. Kulemin 49 11 9 0 20
A. Lee 43 13 5 6 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Halak 26 10 0 .912 2.42
C. Johnson 6 6 0 .865 3.43

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