Habs players make holiday hospital visit

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A handful of current and former Canadiens players stopped by the Montreal Children’s Hospital on Friday, visiting with kids and signing photos, hats and mini-sticks for them.

It’s an annual holiday season ritual for Canadiens players, only this year they organized a visit on their own because of the NHL lockout.

The players have been skating together and agreed that if the dispute dragged on they still wanted to do the hospital visit, Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. Mathieu Darche, an unsigned former Canadien, contacted the Children’s “and obviously we were all on board,” Gionta said.

“A lot of the kids, especially around here, are huge hockey fans.”

“You want to come in and maybe brighten their day and take their mind off of some things that are going on in their life … For us, that’s why we’re here is to make them smile and to hopefully give them a little relief from what they’re going through.”

Gionta and Darche were joined by Habs Erik Cole, Josh Gorges, Francis Bouillon and former Canadiens forward Steve Bégin.

More hospital visits will follow on Monday when the Canadiens organization stages its annual event for the 48th consecutive year. Instead of players, members of the Canadiens management, coaching staff, alumni and RDS personalities will visit patients at the Children’s and Sainte-Justine hospitals along with furry orange mascot Youppi!

You can read The Gazette’s story about the hospital visit and watch a video of it by clicking here

You can read Gazette sports editor Stu Cowan’s column on why we shouldn’t call Sidney Crosby Sid the Kid anymore and give him a round of applause by clicking here.

Pat Hickey writes that like it or not, the NHL owners are going to have to deal with Donald Fehr. Read that column by clicking here.

And you can read about the latest roadblock in the NHL labour talks, which appears to be massive, by clicking here.

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