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L.A. players make kids feel like Kings

Tuesday, 10.13.2009 / 12:51 PM / Hockey is for Everyone

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- How many third-graders do you know who can recall the vital statistics of New York Rangers legend and Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Eddie Giacomin?

Campbell Donovan can.

In fact, the 8-year-old Donovan also knows the scoop on his favorite NHL goalie -- Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

"Yeah, my favorite jersey number is No. 30 because that's Martin Brodeur who broke the record for wins in a career against the Chicago Blackhawks last season and needs just two more shutouts to tie the NHL record," Campbell told NHL.com.

It was a special day for Campbell and 10-year-old Shane Bracken, who were crowned "Kings For a Day" at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store, where members of the Los Angeles Kings paid a visit to interact with them. The Kings were in town to prepare for their Wednesday (7 p.m. ET) meeting with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"When I was a kid I wasn't fortunate enough to have anything like that (NHL Powered by Reebok Store) downstairs," Kings defenseman Jack Johnson said. "If I was a kid I would have drove my parents nuts, I would have wanted one of everything in that store. I think it's really cool. It's so important to grow the game and reach the kids. For the kids, being able to meet a player is really special. You can really make their day and it sticks with them for a long time and makes an impression."

Kings captain Dustin Brown and veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi were on hand to talk hockey and play NHL2K10 on the Nintendo Wii with the two starry-eyed boys.

"It's so important to grow the game and reach the kids. For the kids, being able to meet a player is really special. You can really make their day and it sticks with them for a long time and makes an impression." -- Jack Johnson

"I even had a chance to have Scuderi sign a Boston College jersey that I had brought with me," said Shane's father, Tom Bracken, a BC graduate. Scuderi played four seasons at Boston College.

"Shane got a big kick out of watching them play the Wii and both he and Campbell were wishing them luck against the Rangers," said Tom Bracken.

"Campbell beats me in hockey all the time on PlayStation 2," said his father, Jim Campbell. "It's amazing because he watches Al Trautwig (on MSG Network) every morning during the NHL Classic shows."

"In fact, just the other day, he asked me who was tougher, Ed Hospodar or Ken Linseman," he said. "I looked at him and said, 'What?' Eddie 'Boxcar' Hospodar, of course."

Campbell has had to overcome numerous health issues after being born three months premature and weighing one pound at birth. Still, he started playing hockey last month for the New Jersey Daredevils based out of West Orange, N.J. He wore a Dustin Brown jersey while meeting with the players.

"Today we got to meet two young fans and we played Wii," said Brown, himself the father of two children. "Interacting with kids is always just as much fun for the player as it is the kids. That's one common thing I think anyone can have fun doing. It's great to promote the game like that. You can have people just walking around and pop into the store and become a fan, so it's great."

Bracken, who wore a Matt Greene jersey, was diagnosed with autism when he was 2 1/2 years old. He currently is in his third season with the Daredevils.

"This is great," Tom Bracken said. "Obviously the Kings took the time out after having a game against the Islanders (Monday) and before playing the Rangers to come out here in the morning and support children and education. The NHL has always done a lot for the community and that's the reason why I love the fact my son plays hockey."

Contact Mike Morreale at mmorreale@nhl.com.



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