Just one day after he signed his first-ever professional hockey contract, highly-touted Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel was out in the local community, visiting some special guests.
Eichel visited Roswell Park Cancer Institute, where he spent time with young patients. He had brief chats, played video games, signed items and accepted a card signed by several youngsters undergoing treatments in the facility.
"It's definitely emotional. You look at what they're going through and you never want to see that and never see the pain they're going through," said Eichel to WBFO in a one-on-one interview. "For me to come over here and say hi to a couple kids and spend some time with them, that makes their day."
Dr. Candace Johnson, president and CEO of Roswell Park, says visits like his are impactful on the young patients.
"It's unbelievably important. You have no idea," said Dr. Johnson. "You're a child with cancer, you don't feel good, hope is maybe hard to come by. To see a star like this come to visit you, you can't replace this with anything. It's an amazingly important thing to these kids' lives. They'll remember this their entire lives."
Among the patients Eichel met with was Kayla Iadresin.
"Him just being new to Buffalo, it's nice he came to Roswell this early in the game," she said.
Eichel signed his entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday and spoke to media soon after in a tone suggesting an attitude that he needs to "make the team."
He has not selected a uniform number but welcomed one of the young patients he visited to offer him a suggestion. Matt, age 5, suggested he take the number 24.
"That's a good number. I'll have to take that into consideration," said Eichel with a smile.