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Wild Brings Cheer To Local Area Hospitals

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

On Tuesday night, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba passed the puck to Marco Scandella, who seconds later scored the Wild's sixth goal in a 6-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks. 

Hours later, the duo was teaming up again, passing each other bracelets, Sharpies, stickers, or trading lines as they were part of a group of Wild players who visited local area hospitals on Wednesday.

Dumba and Scandella, along with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter were at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, going room-to-room to chat, take photos, and, in Coyle's words, just bring smiles to faces.

"It's nice to know that we can do something little to help them out," Coyle said. "Some unfortunate stuff, but for us to come out here and have the ability to see them, and maybe put a smile on their face for a little bit, it's a pretty cool feeling."

Niklas Backstrom, Mikko Koivu, Nate Prosser, and Thomas Vanek were at Saint Paul Children's Hopstial, while Jonas Brodin, Justin Fontaine, Mikael Granlund, Chris Porter, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter, and Jason Zucker were at the University of Minnesota.

"Just talking to [Scandella] even before we got in here, when you think of hospital, you think of a dark place, not very many happy things going on with all the surgeries, and sickness that goes along with it," Dumba said. "But to just come in here and try to put some smiles on parent's, children's faces, it's awesome for them, but it's also rewarding for us as well."

Scandella and Dumba began their tour in the room of 15-year-old Janet, who had just undergone spine surgery.

Next-door was Anika, who had also undergone spine surgery.

"You're already sitting up; tough girl," Scandella said. 

"Superwoman," Dumba added.

Asked if she was a hockey fan, Anika said, "I'm a Minnesotan, gotta love hockey." 

When it came time to give out some bracelets, Anika told the defensemen she has seven siblings.

"You're going to need more bracelets then," Dumba said, reaching deeper into his stocking.

They stopped to say hello to Drew, seven, who paused his Gameboy to say hello, but resumed when Dumba and Scandella asked him what he was playing (Power Rangers), and offered their services in helping him try to take down bad guys. 

"Who's your friend here?" Scandella asked picking up a stuffed animal on Drew's bedside. 

"Leo," Drew said. 

"Leo's a cutie," Scandella answered back.

The tour continued. They stopped by to see Logan, a five-year-old, who used a stethoscope to check each player's heartbeat.

"What your favorite thing about kindergarten?" Dumba asked, but before Logan could answer, Scandella helped him out, whispering, "Recess."

They made their way into the room of Joshua, who had broken his foot on a trampoline, and undergone five surgeries.

He had a cast with red and green tape — Christmas colors according to Dumba, Minnesota Wild colors if you asked Scandella. 

"You candy-cane this thing all the way up?" Dumba asked.

"That's what he does with his stick," Scandella said.

After finishing their room visits, they met up with Coyle and Niederreiter, already in the main lobby, meeting and greeting any patient, family, or hospital employee who walked past, offering up signed cards, bracelets, stickers, or to pose for a picture.

Niederreiter and Coyle were deep in a conversation with Joslyn, a four-year-old, headed to the pool. Dumba and Scandella instantly jumped in, quickly learning that she was four years old. 

"Like this?" Dumba asked, pinching the jersey number on his sleeve.

Before Joslyn could get away, Dumba slipped his jersey off and handed it to her. 

"You need to have it," he said, as he and his three teammates signed it.

"We were all kind of crowded around her, and she was as cute as could be," Dumba said. "When I gave her the jersey, it just lit up her face.

"It's the holidays, and the giving spirit."

They remained in the lobby, encouraging anyone who passed through to jump in for a photo.

"It's just so cool to see. People smiling, that's the main thing, and just feeling good," Coyle said. "For us to be able to reach out and just say hi, or give the little girl a card, or a jersey, it's a pretty cool feeling to have. To be able to do that for them, and you know that they're having a good time, and feeling good."

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