Amidst a strong start on the ice, the Islanders took some time Thursday morning to do some good off of it.
Players gathered at the Toys ‘R’ Us in Carle Place to buy gifts they will distribute to children during the team’s annual holiday hospital visits later in December. The Islanders will visit hospitals on Long Island, and in Brooklyn, Queens and New York City.
“It’s a fun thing we do every year. It’s one we take really personally,” John Tavares said. “It’s nice to see the kids’ smiles and take their attention off what they’re dealing with for a few moments.”
“It brings us back to our childhood and we get to do something good around the holidays,” said Scott Mayfield, who added the ensuing hospital visits add a personal touch. “It’s not like we’re just here buying and then shipping them off. We can actually deliver them to the kids and see their reaction and bring them some happiness. It’s tough being there over the holidays.”
Andrew Ladd said being a father of three has given him an appreciation for what toys can mean for children around the holidays. “There are a lot of kids that aren’t as fortunate as some, so to be able to help out . . . is a great thing,” he said.
“We’re all blessed to be in wonderful situations, so if there’s anything we can do to give back to the community that needs a hand, we’re happy to help,” said Anders Lee.
“They’re a lot tougher than we are,” Calvin de Haan said of the children.
The Islanders head into December with a 15-7-2 record and are in second place in the Metropolitan Division, largely on the strength of an offense that is third in the NHL in goals scored.
“We were clicking the last half of last year, so we’ve carried that on,” Ladd said. The Islanders went 25-12-4 in the second half of last season and tied for the fourth most points in the league during this stretch with 54. “We’re playing with a lot of speed and using that to our advantage.”
“You can see the confidence continue to grow,” said Tavares, who is third in the league with 16 goals. “Everyone is starting to feel good individually and finding their roles within the team. We obviously want that to continue.”