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Hockey Fights Cancer: Hearts on their sleeves

Habs will wear special-edition customized lavender warmup jerseys on Saturday

by Steven Nechay @CanadiensMTL / canadiens.com

MONTREAL -- The Habs will wear their hearts on their sleeves when the Buffalo Sabres visit the Bell Centre on Saturday.

As part of the team's Hockey Fight Cancer™ initiatives this month, players will don special-edition lavender warmup jerseys before hitting the ice at home against Buffalo.

But adding a personal touch to the unique threads this year is a Hockey Fights Cancer patch sewn onto the right sleeve, and a customizable "I FIGHT FOR ___" tag located up front.

That the tag itself is customizable is a humbling sign of the times today.

"I think at some point in your life, everyone has been touched with, or has had to deal with cancer," underlined Brendan Gallagher, who lost his grandfather Matt to the deadly disease and will be representing him on the ice Saturday. "It's a terrible thing, but I think the NHL does an unbelievable job at getting involved with it."

And so, every Hab will have the opportunity to share his own experiences with the disease under the national spotlight during Hockey Night in Canada, while also emphasizing the courage of those living with cancer.

"Brock Hirsche is a guy I used to play hockey with in Lethbridge Triple-A. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer about a year after I was diagnosed," shared defenseman Brandon Davidson, himself is a cancer survivor. "He's been through that fight with chemotherapy and radiation. He was actually cancer-free for four years, but it returned recently.

"They just caught it about a week ago, so this month really hits home," added Davidson. "My thoughts and prayers are with Brock, and he's got to know he won't be fighting alone. He's a friend that I'll have in my heart -- and on my jersey -- and I'll be battling with him the whole way."

Andrew Shaw meanwhile will be fighting for his mother, Darlene.

Video: Habs join the fight against cancer

"My mom is a survivor -- she was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2012. She's healthy today, but it's a scary thing to have a family member going through that," admitted Shaw, who once auctioned stitches from his face in 2013 to raise money for cancer research while playing in Chicago. "There are tons of people you could do it for. Kids, mothers, fathers, grandparents… It's a terrible disease, and if we can help even a little bit, I think everybody should."

On Saturday, 70 young members of Leucan and their parents will be in attendance at the Bell Centre, and a handful of those kids will have their own names inscribed on a number of players' jerseys.

"For us as NHLers, it really helps put things in perspective, and allows us to understand how fortunate we are to do what we love for a living," concluded Gallagher. "It's important to take part in these initiatives."

Following warm-ups, the lavender duds will be auctioned at auctions.nhl.com to raise funds for Leucan.

All proceeds will help support children and their families who are affected by cancer.

For more information about the cause, visit: leucan.qc.ca

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