As the Ducks look to take down the Vancouver Canucks tonight to finish off a lengthy road trip, Ryan Kesler
will have some extra inspiration.
Six-year-old Nevan Coburn of Vancouver has considered Kesler his favorite hockey player ever since Kesler was with the Canucks. But there is more to Nevan than meets the eye.
At just 20 months old, Nevan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called germ cell teratoma. He underwent a number of chemotherapy sessions over the next several months, followed by intense follow-up appointments and blood work. He is now cancer-free, crediting the sport he loves, and especially Kesler, as motivation.
"I heard," Kesler said to him, "you're a fighter."
Said Nevan's mom, Debbie, "I don't know if players really know what type of inspiration they give these kids. He used to sit in the hospital wearing Ryan's jersey and watching him on TV...you could see his mood change. I really think it helped him get through it."
Nevan was a special guest of the Ducks at this morning's skate at Rogers Arena and will be in the stands at tonight's game, but his presence will also be felt inside visitors' dressing room. While meeting Kesler this morning, Nevan gave Kesler his own hockey card (autographed, of course) and it is prominently displayed inside Kesler's locker stall.
"I told him he wasn't going to school today because he was going to meet Ryan," Debbie said, "and he was speechless"
Nevan was lucky enough to meet some other players during the NHL All-Star Weekend last month in Nashville. He was one of five guests of The Children's Wish Foundation of Canada and Make-A-Wish America, each of which grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.