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Hockey Fights Cancer

Smith of Flames stands behind niece on Hockey Fights Cancer night

Calgary goaltender glad trade brought him closer to family for support

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Mike Smith isn't just fighting for Elle. He's standing behind her, too.

And a little to the left.

Smith lined up on the blue line behind his niece for a special ceremony prior to the Calgary Flames' game against the New Jersey Devils at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, in Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night.

The ceremony, in conjunction with the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation, recognized six children who have survived cancer or are continuing to fight.

Elle is still fighting.

"I'm sure everyone's gone through either a friend or a family member going through a battle of cancer," said Smith, who gave his goalie stick to Elle after the ceremony. "My niece was 18 months [old] when she was diagnosed with leukemia; she's now going to be four in January, and she has three treatments left. It's a sad time but it's an exciting time, especially for our family.

"We're closer to Elle and are able to help out when we can."

That hasn't always been the case.

Smith spent six seasons with the Arizona Coyotes before being acquired by the Flames on June 17. The trade brought Smith and wife Brigitte closer to family, and closer to Elle.

"Seeing my wife's sister and brother-in-law go through a real tough time with their daughter. … it's nice now where we're close to home where they live … they live in Canmore and we're able to spend some time with them," said Smith, now just an hour away in Calgary.

"We were pretty far away before and they weren't able to travel. It's kind of a blessing in disguise we were traded here and we're able to spend some time with family we don't see very often."

Smith saw them Sunday. The blue line visit from Elle helped him put the game into perspective.

"All these people going through such tragedies in their lives, and we're able to play a sport for a living," Smith said. "It means a lot to have Elle out there and to be able to show our support with people [who] are either battling or have fought and won the fight, and we just want to let everyone know we're there to show our support."

There are plenty of ways Smith and the Flames are showing support.

He and his teammates sported lavender-colored tape on their sticks, and all players are wearing the Hockey Fights Cancer decals on their helmets. Proceeds from the Calgary Flames Foundation 50-50 raffle sales and Hockey Fights Cancer apparel sold during November are going to Hockey Fights Cancer as well.

Hockey Fights Cancer has raised more than $18 million since it was founded in 1998.

Some Flames, Smith included, will also grow a moustache in support of Hockey Fights Cancer and the Movember Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

"It's sad how much this is affecting everyone's lives," Smith said. "I think anything we can do as an organization, as a league to raise money, raise awareness and hopefully put an end to this one day.

"I think it's awesome what the Flames Foundation does and the money they raise and the things they do behind the scenes that people don't maybe see first-hand.

"It's appreciated, and we're glad to help out."

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