September 15, 2005
Maple Leafs Make Annual Training Camp Visit to Sick Kids' Hospital
(September 15, 2005) -- Forget about the skating drills, The Toronto Maple Leafs took the time to hone their table hockey chops at The Hospital for Sick Children Wednesday as they made the annual training camp visit to help lift the spirits of some of the courageous youngsters at the hospital.
Leafs captain Mats Sundin, joined by several other players, spent the afternoon interacting with some of the brave residents of Sick Kids and touring the new and improved Marnie's Lounge for the first time.
Two years ago, in honour of Mats Sundin's 1,000th game and 1,000th point, the Leafs Fund made a donation of $50,000 to improve Marnie's Lounge - a popular place in the hospital for kids to come and relax, play games and just be kids.
""It's somewhere where you can get out of the room and a new change of scenery, and hang out with other kids,"" said Nick Fouceuld who has been at Sick Kids for six weeks. ""You know, something to just get your mind off what you're going through.""
With the donation the hospital was able to refurbish the pool table, buy new furniture for the TV area, equip the room with height adjustable tables and chairs, buy new video game systems, and they bought a new bubble hockey table in honour of the donation from the Leafs Fund.
""They're a tradition for us here at the hospital,"" said Jane Darch, a child-life specialist at the hospital of the Leafs visit. ""We always look forward to them coming because the kids get the chance to meet their heroes and that doesn't happen very often.""
Chelsey-Ann Cardenas was enjoying a game of hockey with her hero Mats Sundin when only a week ago she could barely speak or stand.
""It's so overwhelming,"" said Chelsey-Ann. ""You see them on the TV and then you seem them live, it just takes you over.""
Her mom was all smiles and was overwhelmed with seeing her daughter ""just being herself again.""
""It's unbelievable the response we get every time we come to the Sick Kids Hospital,"" said Sundin. ""We've had a relationship for many years now and I know for players it's a favourite place to come, and this room has been special.""
""It's more fun to play here than being out in training camp right now.""
Other players that joined in were Mikael Tellqvist, Matt Stajan, Nathan Perrott, Chad Kilger, Carlo Colaiacovo, Alexander Khavanov, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Aki Berg.
""They have a lot of support here to help them out through their battles,"" said Kilger. ""We're just trying to do the same, to help them continue the fight.""
But perhaps the most touched person in the room was Jason Kimelman, brother of Marnie.
""As a Toronto boy I live and breathe the Toronto Maple Leafs,"" said Kimelman. ""The only thing better than today will be that day in the summer when you walk in here with the Stanley Cup.""
And Chelsey-Ann echoed those words when asked if she had anything else she wanted to say to the Leafs.
""Go win the Stanley Cup.""