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NHL teams going virtual for holiday children's hospital visits

Clubs continue annual tradition creatively in keeping with pandemic protocols

by Pat Pickens @Pat_Pickens / NHL.com Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic wasn't going to stop NHL teams from bringing holiday cheer to children in need.

The Los Angeles Kings, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes each made its their annual holiday visit to local children's hospitals virtually.

The Maple Leafs have been visiting The Hospital for Sick Children for more than 90 years, and they called on some of their highest profile players for this year's visit. John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Frederik Andersen and Morgan Rielly joined mascot Carlton Bear to play games and offer well wishes to young fans.

Tweet from @MapleLeafs: An annual tradition 💙Making a special virtual visit to @SickKidsNews to answer questions, play games and send out swag.#LeafsForever x #SickKidsVS pic.twitter.com/M201txY5jL

The Coyotes invited two patients at Phoenix Children's Hospital - Dylan, a 12-year old with cardiomyopathy, and Max, a 6-year-old with tricuspid atresia - to their practice at Gila River Arena on Monday, giving them an up-close view of their favorite hockey team through an iPad.

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Even though we couldn't be there in person, we love this tradition so much that we needed to find a way to make it happen. Special thanks to our friends at @PhxChildrens for helping us carry out our annual visit yesterday to see some of our biggest fans! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/hQ5JASrQlO

"I thought it was awesome," Coyotes forward Christian Fischer told the team website. "It was cool for them to FaceTime on the bench with the hockey team. The guys got a kick out of it. I'm sure they saw us huffing and puffing and drinking water. They were sitting on the bench there, so I'm sure they got to see a couple winded players every now and then come by."

Kings players Cal Peterson, Sean Walker and Austin Wagner played a Pictionary-style game with kids from Children's Hospitals LA on Monday, which led to some hearty laughs.

Tweet from @ChildrensLA: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It���s a ... hmm. A cow-like tiger? 😆 Thanks for making us laugh, @LAKings!#HockeyFightsCancer pic.twitter.com/4j1cgbF3TN

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