SUN Hockey Pool

Just what the doctor ordered

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:39 AM ET

In the broad scheme of things, the ability to bring smiles to children's faces is much more important than producing points.

The Calgary Flames were a ray of sunshine in the halls of the Alberta Children's Hospital yesterday as they brought gifts to more than 300 kids, an annual tradition in which Chris Simon is happy to take part.

"I think it's very important to give back to the community in a lot of different situations," said Simon. "This is definitely a very special situation for every player on the team. Every player goes. Every player wants to go and that shows a lot for the organization."

The Wawa, Ont., product has always been willing to spend time with youngsters, whatever the venue.

"Even before I had kids, I put in a lot of time with kids in the communities, with Native hockey schools and all types of things like that. It's always something that I enjoy doing," said Simon, who was spotted doing some Christmas shopping with his kids at Chinook Centre during the Flames' three-day break earlier this week.

"A lot of guys around the league really focus on getting to see the kids. Unfortunately, it's in the hospital but it's sure nice to put a smile on their faces. It's a pleasure to go over there and maybe cheer up some kids and their families."

Shean Donovan had mixed emotions before embarking on the gift-giving outing. He loves to see the faces light up when the Flames arrive but it's tough to imagine so many sick children spending their holidays away from home.

"Some of those kids are going to be in the hospital during Christmas, so that's pretty sad," said Donovan. "Hopefully there's a few hockey fans in there and they get excited about us coming in."

Donovan, as modest as a National Hockey League player can be, loves the reaction the Flames get upon their arrival.

"It's pretty cool. I think it's just because you're a part of the Flames," he said. "Most kids, they'll know Jarome (Iginla) and Kipper (Miikka Kiprusoff). We walk in there and I don't think they all know the rest of us but because we're part of the Flames, they think that's pretty cool."

Simon says visits to the hospital can really tug at the heartstrings.

"It really puts things into perspective," said Simon, who feels charity work is important as a player in position to help.

"I think it is a responsibility of the position that we're in being professional athletes. We are role models. Whether you want to be or not, you are a role model towards the youth and the kids in the communities and all over the place."


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