HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- With a throng of reporters around his locker stall Tuesday, St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was a more than willing participant for the topic of conversation that unfolded.
Pietrangelo was sporting a new, clean-shaved head, something he admitted he's never done before. And he did it for a special girl close to his heart.
Pietrangelo and his girlfriend Jayne's 5-year-old niece Ellie (the daughter of Jayne's sister) was diagnosed in August with Wilms' tumor, a form of cancer that develops in the kidneys of children.
Ellie is recovering well two months after surgery. She has a website set up to help off-set expenses and it's already raised a little less than $19,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. But Ellie was given the honor of shaving Uncle Alex's head Monday in support of Ellie's cause.
"Everyone around me was laughing," Pietrangelo said. "I didn't know what it looked like at first. She did a pretty junky job at first ... I won't lie. It's pretty funny. I had bunches of hair. I had a rat tail and everything going on. The sister-in-law cleaned it up a bit. She didn't do this herself at 5 years old. We kept the guard on when she had the razor in her hand. I was scared about the eyebrows. That's what I was scared about. ... It was getting close.
"I never shaved my head. I think my mother was terrified when I sent her a picture. ... I kept the beard, so that makes it for an easier transition."