Days off are rare in the compressed 2012-13 NHL season, so when they come up, players usually rush for the nearest quiet place.
But when the Boston Bruins had a day off Monday, a few of the coaches and players chose to do something special and meaningful. They traveled to Newtown, Conn., to spend time with families affected by the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting from December 2012.
"Important is probably a real small word," Bruins coach Claude Julien told the team's website. "For us, it was something that we really wanted to do. The fact that we have that opportunity to come here and hopefully put smiles on faces and to show our support."
The players spent the day at the Newtown Youth Academy, playing ball hockey and basketball, and just spending time with the youngsters and their families. The players listened to their stories and provided encouragement where and when they could.
"I'm looking at the players and they're still in there having a blast," Julien said as he watched Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, Andrew Ference and Chris Bourque running around with the kids and playing street hockey. "That's such a nice thing to see right now. I'm really proud of our players for coming in here and helping out."
The Bruins' next stop was an ice rink where the players met with members of the Newtown High School hockey team. They walked in wearing their Bruins jerseys, but walked out wearing blue and yellow Newtown jerseys given to them by the Newtown High coach.
"Obviously, just want to represent the best we can," Seguin told the team's website. "We're all keeping them on now -- we gave them all our jerseys we were wearing and signed them. So definitely was a fun day."
The players also left Newtown with another gift -- green-and-white bracelets with "Angels of Sandy Hook" on one side and "Hope Faith Love" on the other.
"Obviously, the bracelets are to support Newtown," Ference told the team's website. "Everything the community's gone through and what they stand for now."
For more on the Bruins' day in Newtown, click here.