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Wings: Children’s Hospital trip brings perspective

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — There are many team functions the Red Wings have but none, in Trevor Daley’s estimation, has the impact that visiting Children’s Hospital of Michigan does.

For Daley, a parent of two, the entire experience is “humbling,” the veteran defenseman said.

“I’ve done it with every team I’ve been with, and it’s the best visit we get to go on,” Daley said before the Red Wings’ traditional holiday visit.

“It’s the most humbling as a father and parent that has two kids. It’s good to go in there and put a smile on peoples’ faces.”

Coach Jeff Blashill and the entire team made room-to-room visits, dropped off gifts, and made everyone’s day just a bit brighter.

But it wasn’t just the kids who were impacted.

This day, every year, leaves an impact with the players, too.

“I know guys really enjoy it and spending some time with the kids,” forward Justin Abdelkader said.

“It’s unfortunate circumstances for the kids who have to be in there. But if we can bring some joy and get their attention focused off what they’re going through for a few minutes, or for the day, give them something to be excited about …

“It puts life in perspective.”

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Daley said it’s “awful” to think about the reasons kids are at Children’s Hospital.

“If we, as the Detroit Red Wings, can go in and make their lives happier for those five or 10 minutes we spend with them, then that makes a big difference,” Daley said.

The visit to Children’s Hospital always has special importance to Blashill.

“I’m a father of three,” Blashill said. “One of my best friend’s little boy has had cancer. My niece goes weekly to the hospital (Children’s Hospital), she’s got a rare blood disorder.

“I spent three or four days when my son had heart surgery at Mott’s Children Hospital when he was 2 years old, five years ago.

“These are important visits. What I find when I go over there is that you get way more out of it than the children do.”

Blashill, too, sees the annual visit as putting everything in perspective.

“We were lucky, he (Blashill’s son) had a fixable problem,” Blashill said.

“Some of the kids don’t necessarily have fixable problems, so they are trying to enjoy every second of every day that they can. It’s important to remember that.

“I hope we can bring some happiness to the young kids, but I know we’ll get way more out of it than they will get.”