CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- In the middle of a busy and hectic NHL schedule, St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O'Reilly made the most of his Friday night off.
The 2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas' to a group of elated young Blues fans at Fan Cave Sports.
O'Reilly signed autographs for almost two hours before making his way to a room full of children, who intently listened as he flipped through the book with Santa Claus by his side.
"It's definitely cool to do something different like that," O'Reilly said. "It's something different and unique. Normally for me, I don't do it, so it's kind of a nice thing to branch out, do something different and It'll be fun."
O'Reilly, who's helped the Blues to first place in the Western Conference through 33 games, has a two-year-old boy, Jameson, at home.
"I've read books before for kids, but not on this scale and for this many people, so I'm a little nervous," he said. "I've got a little strategy of trying to pace myself and not rush it."
"I haven't (rehearsed it). I read my little guy stories every night, but two nights ago, I did some practice, read him a few good ones to kind of prepare. ... I think it's very nice to kind of do something different. With that hectic schedule, to come here and see people and do things and branch out, it's great. It takes the mind off the grind of the season and you can just kind of relax. It's a cool thing we all get to kind of enjoy and take a break from the season."
Hundreds of parents and children were glad to get an autograph from O'Reilly and take pictures with him.
"Every time you see one of them, it reminds me of when I was a kid," O'Reilly said. "When I got a chance to see an NHL player, it was so exciting for me. It's cool to be able to see the kids and see their excitement, say hi to them and hopefully try to make their day."