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Subban, Preds Teammates Visit Montreal Children's Hospital

Nashville Defenseman Continues to Pledge Support, Love for Patients in Montreal

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Among the traffic and the snow-covered sidewalks, amid the hustle and bustle of the lunchtime rush in Quebec, the Montreal Children's Hospital rose up into the sky, bright with blues, greens and golds glowing on its exterior.

From the moment he stepped off the bus and through the front doors, into the atrium that bears his name, the energy grew tenfold.

Donning a gold jersey with his No. 76 emblazoned on the back and sleeves, and a custom adidas hat to match, he went to work. Everyone who laid eyes on him smiled, some brave enough to ask for a photograph, others observing from afar, a wave of happiness spreading over the space.

He entered the elevator with six teammates by his side and took it to the ninth floor. And for the next hour, they went room to room, spending their off day with the kids.

It was September of 2015 when the announcement was made.

A member of the Montreal Canadiens at the time, he was already one of, if not the NHL's most charismatic player. But for all the success he was having on the ice, he wanted to do something off of it, something more than just the occasional visit to say hello.

And so, with the help of his foundation, he pledged to donate $10 million to the Montreal Children's Hospital over the next seven years.

"I remember standing there before we made the announcement and he held his arm out and he had goosebumps," Children's Hospital Vice President of Communications, Marketing, Stewardship and Events Kim Fraser recalled. "And he said, 'look at that, I've never been so excited in my life.' I looked at him and said, 'dude, your life's dream was to play in the NHL!' And he said, 'no, this is better.'"

Less than a year after the press conference, the deal was made, traded to Nashville.

Now a country away from the hospital, his support never wavered. If anything, it's only grown. And so when he's back in Montreal, his first stop is to see the patients, the nurses, the doctors - the people who let him escape for a moment from everything else.

"We weren't surprised at all," Fraser said of the continued commitment. "It's pure P.K."

When they told Samantha Zimmerman he was coming, tears of joy ran down her face.

She has been at the hospital for the last 46 days to be with her 18-month-old son, Zen-Luka, a boy with long locks of sandy-blond hair and a cheerful disposition that was only amplified when the seven hockey players entered the room.

The television near Zen-Luka's crib, complete with internet access and the ability to play music or shows, is there because of the pledge. And it's why Zimmerman was overcome with emotion when she found out she was about to meet the man who made it possible.

"Every time I turn on that television, I'm grateful to the P.K. Subban Foundation because we have this to entertain him and stimulate him," Zimmerman said. "It's helped me judge his baseline with medication. He's very dopey, but then we can put on his favorite shows and see how he comes alive again."

The stories were similar throughout the eighth and ninth floors, all so grateful, so humbled by the generosity.

There was the young boy in a Subban Canadiens t-shirt who took shots on Roman Josi as the captain played goaltender. There was the infant with an 'I Love P.K.' t-shirt, cradled by his soon-to-be hero. And then there were the children in the Gold Predators t-shirts, a sight that would have been anything but ordinary in the city just two years earlier.

"For him to be here in person, to see how beautifully he interacts with the children, the fact he just even takes the time, I'm so impressed," Zimmerman said. "I'm so impressed to see so many of his teammates, too. It's hard to be in the hospital. They're going to do a lot today to help a lot of kids."

Some were too young to understand their situation, others were old enough to realize how bleak it might be.

But for a few moments, they didn't think about the treatments, the trials, the tribulations - because he was there.

And as he and his teammates said their goodbyes, the energy those clad in Gold brought continued to hover, bound to linger long after they head back home to Tennessee.

In the days, weeks, months and years to come, all anyone has to do is head to the atrium and look up. His name will still be there, and therefore, so will he.

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