The Chicago Blackhawks assembled at Johnny’s IceHouse West on Thursday for their usual practice. There was the usual talk of work on power plays and faceoffs, and it was noted that Dave Bolland was skating with the team. But toward the end of practice, a new player took the ice for some practice of his own.
James Ensign is a nine-year-old boy from Barrington, Illinois, and is in remission from leukemia. Through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Blackhawks organization made it possible for Ensign to shoot pucks with the team and try his hand at a shootout against Corey Crawford. Donning hockey gear and a Patrick Kane jersey, James hit the ice, getting advice from Jonathan Toews and taking faceoffs with Toews and Jamal Mayers. And yes, he beat Crawford in the shootout.
“It was really awesome because he [Crawford] was, like, really taking it easy on me,” Ensign said with a smile. “That was really fun.”
“Obviously, having kids kind of changes your perspective on everything,” said Mayers, who is a father of three himself. “What a great spirit he has. I don’t think he took the smile off his face. It was a lot of fun for us to be out there with him.”
This isn’t the first time this season that the Blackhawks hosted a young player through Make-A-Wish. In March, young Jarrett Hill fulfilled his wish when he took to the crease during a Blackhawks practice. You can be sure Thursday’s practice won’t be the last time the team will work to make a child’s dream come true.