NASHVILLE -- Matt Duchene will have some special guests with him at the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
The Nashville Predators forward will bring Lochlin Morris and his family for the game against the Dallas Stars at Cotton Bowl Stadium on Jan. 1 (2 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS).
Morris was 9 when he was diagnosed with Stage 3 non-Hodgkin lymphoma in June. He's had a difficult year dealing with cancer treatments and not being able to live a normal life. He met Duchene at a Hockey Fights Cancer game against the New York Rangers on Nov. 2.
Duchene, through his partnership with Bridgestone, surprised the Morris family with an invitation to a Predators practice and a trip to Dallas for the game, hoping that they will be able to get away for some time together and begin 2020 with new hope.
"That's a partnership with Bridgestone that we're doing, and I think it's very cool," Duchene said. "Things are looking up for them. Lochlin has had a tough last year and seems to be on the other side of things right now. Obviously you want that to continue. I think it's great for not just him but the whole family to get away and be able to enjoy something because you can only imagine the toll. I've never been through it thankfully, but you can imagine the toll that that takes on a family and brothers and sisters and stuff like that."
Duchene believes NHL players have the opportunity to affect the lives of many people in a positive way. He wants the entire Morris family to be able to enjoy the experience after such a challenging period in their lives.
"Especially now that I have a little guy, it hurts a little more to see parents go through it because you kind of put yourself in that situation," said Duchene, who had his first child, a son, in January. "Obviously as a kid I was lucky not to be in those shoes, but as a parent now you can definitely empathize with other parents who have to go through that. It's tough. It's amazing how strong they all are when you meet them. It's definitely admirable, and it's nice to maybe be able to give a little something to them for what they've been through."