CHICAGO -- Benoit Savard found great joy in watching the Chicago Blackhawks while he fought acute lymphoblastic leukemia. On Friday, the 12-year-old from Levis, Quebec got to practice with them.
As part of his Children's Wish Foundation of Canada experience, Savard skated for about 20 minutes with the Blackhawks at Fifth Third Arena. He also will drop the ceremonial puck before the Blackhawks play the Los Angeles Kings on Hockey Fights Cancer night at United Center on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSCH, FS-W, NHL.TV).
Savard was 9 when he was diagnosed with leukemia and he has been in remission for one year.
"I had fun with the Chicago Blackhawks," Benoit said after practice.
Emmanuel Savard said the Blackhawks provided a much-needed distraction to his younger brother after his diagnosis.
"When [Benoit] found out about his cancer, watching the Blackhawks was a good way to turn off his mind and just think about hockey," the 15-year-old said. "It was his dream for a long time and it's the best day of his life [to be here]. He's worked so hard and he never gives up."
Benoit learned about three months ago that he could practice with the Blackhawks. Wearing a red No. 88 Blackhawks jersey, he scored on goalie Corey Crawford three times and skated and did some passing with several players, including forward Dylan Strome.
"You could see the smile on his face," Strome said. "I mean, obviously he's going through what he's going through, and I'm sure he loves the Hawks and wearing that jersey. He was pretty excited to be out there and not a bad little player."
Captain Jonathan Toews said Savard got the Blackhawks' attention during practice.
"I was standing in front of the net doing the power play in between our shifts and I heard the guys yelling at the other end of the rink," Toews said. "And I saw him taking one-timers underneath the bar, so I was pretty impressed."
Savard said joining the Blackhawks was a treat, especially meeting his idol, Patrick Kane, who signed several hockey trading cards and pucks for him.
"Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews asked me if I feel good," Benoit said. "I said, 'Yes, I feel good.' [They said], 'Come with us on the ice.' It was very fun."