Devils spread cheer with annual hospital visits
|A young fan with Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias and Martin Brodeur.|
The team made its annual hospital visits on Wednesday, bringing holiday cheer to the pediatric wards of eight New Jersey hospitals.
Groups of players signed autographs and delivered team calendars, pucks and Devils-themed silly bands to St. Barnabas, Livingston; Hackensack University Medical Center; Robert Wood Johnson, New Brunswick; Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck; University, Newark; St. Joseph’s, Paterson; Morristown Memorial; and Overlook, Summit.
“It just makes you, I think, give back to the kids and to the nurses and doctors that are working so hard to try and help people out,” said Martin Brodeur, who traveled to St. Barnabas with Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner. “For us, it’s such a small thing to do, but I think it means a lot. Sometimes people don’t even know who we are, but just the fact that you go there, it puts a smile to their face.”
As a father of five, Brodeur appreciates the chance to make a difference for children and their parents.
“I think it’s something that, for us, is a fun thing to do, especially when you have kids,” Brodeur said. “It makes you realize how lucky you are. Especially this year, maybe it erases, just for a day, what we’re thinking about our jobs.”
David Clarkson feels strongly about community participation, and remains actively involved with Clarky’s Kids, a charity he started with his former junior team, the Kitchener Rangers.
There’s no question about what he enjoys most about the visits.
“The smiles on the kids faces,” Clarkson said. “To me, I think it’s something we should do. I think it’s something that, when you see those kids, an hour of our day, bringing them a hat or a jersey or something little, it just means the world to them. It’s very special.”
Clarkson visited Overlook Hospital in Summit with Jason Arnott, Henrik Tallinder and Bryce Salvador. It takes little time from a player’s day to impact the lives of those who need it most.
“Sometimes you bring their spirits up; you make them feel a little bit better just for that hour or that couple of hours,” Clarkson said. “I think there’s nothing that makes you feel better than after you leave the hospital. And it’s hard, it’s hard sometimes you go in there and see some of these kids and people the way they are – it’s very tough to do. But I think you have to remember what you’re doing and how excited some of them are to see you.”
Some Devils veterans return to the same hospitals year after year, developing a connection with patients and hospital staff. They’ve been known to receive letters from parents thanking them for their support.
“That sometimes means a lot to you when people say nice things and you can build a relationship with people that way,” Clarkson said.
The yearly tradition has endured for more than a decade. Brodeur’s favorite memory from previous visits was a playfully stern message delivered to hospital staff from a former teammate.
“One moment,” Brodeur said. “Bobby Holik telling a nurse, ‘I’m not here for you, I’m here for the kids!’”
Full list of player groups:
St. Barnabas, Livingston- Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Martin Brodeur; Hackensack University Medical Center- Andy Greene, Dainius Zubrus, Anssi Salmela; Robert Wood Johnson, New Brunswick- Stephen Gionta, Alexander Vasyunov, Anton Volchenkov; Holy Name Medical Center, Teaneck- Mark Fayne, Mattias Tedenby, Matt Taormina; University, Newark- Colin White, Travis Zajac, Ilya Kovalchuk; St. Joseph’s, Paterson- Olivier Magnan, Matthew Corrente, Mark Fraser; Morristown Memorial- Rod Pelley, Adam Mair, Johan Hedberg; Overlook, Summit- David Clarkson, Henrik Tallinder, Jason Arnott, Bryce Salvador