Community is a contact sport for the Vegas Golden Knights and the team showed that Monday when players visited pediatric patients at Summerlin Hospital and University Medical Center.
The players spent time with kids of all ages battling different illnesses that are keeping them hospitalized through the holiday season. The team took photos, signed autographs and delivered VGK gift bags for the kids.
Taking a step back from hockey and spending time with kids is something that defenseman Nate Schmidt said is just as rewarding to him and his teammates as it is exciting for the children.
"It's a fulfilling time of the year to be out in the community and be with the kids," Schmidt said. "It was great to be around the kids and share that Christmas spirit."
For kids who don't have a lot to smile about while receiving treatment, a visit from their local NHL is a way to forget about what they're dealing with on a day-to-day basis for a few minutes. That smile is what it's all about for defenseman Brayden McNabb.
"If we can put a smile on a couple of kids faces and make their day, that's amazing," McNabb said. "It's fun for us to come and be able to do this."
The individual moments the players share with patients are memories that both parties hold with them long after their brief interaction is over. For Schmidt, seeing a kid open up about things that make them happy warms his heart because it takes the conversation away from what has the child in the hospital in the first place.
"The first kid we met, his name was Michael, he was really shy, and he didn't really want to talk much. But then his nurse came in and he was a bit more comfortable and he told us all about what he wants for Christmas," said Schmidt.
As the holiday season continues, Schmidt said he felt the essence of what the season is all about with each moment he shared with a kid going through tough times.
"You're a part of that room for that amount of time and that's all that matters," said Schmidt. "They're excited, we're excited and that's why they call it the Christmas spirit."