“It’s just nice to see the smiles on the kids' faces,” said Ottawa Senators centre Chris Kelly. “They’re going through a tough time but they’re just like any other kid. They’re happy to see us and we’re happy to see them.”
Stanley Ulysses’ four year old son Oliver has been in the hospital for over a year. They watch every Senators game and Oliver’s favourite player is Alex Kovalev. “He kept a picture of Kovalev next to his bed, and every time he scored he would cheer. He knows every player. He’s so excited.”
Local radio host Stuntman Stu was on hand to introduce the team, whose rookie members led a rousing rendition of Jingle Bells. Then they spent time signing autographs, posing for photos and chatting with kids and their parents.
Taylor, 13, thanked the Sens for coming, and said, “it makes us really happy and helps lift our spirits. They’re our home team and I cheer for them every night.”
Some female fans said they were most excited to see player Mike Fisher, whose celebrity status was elevated after his marriage to country music superstar Carrie Underwood. Fisher joked that he didn’t sing a Christmas carol because he “didn’t want to show up” his famous wife.
Kelly said being a new dad himself made him “appreciate things a bit more.”
“This puts things in perspective,” Kelly said “We go out and play a game but there are more serious things than wins and losses in a hockey game.”