By David McCoy

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Wild have had a couple injuries, but even putting that aside, anytime you can add a player of this kind of caliber — especially this time of year with the playoffs approaching — it’s a big deal.

“Well you know what? He’s not too tall, but we’ve got a couple small guys on our team too, so he should fit right in,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.

This is Amare Hanson, a 7-year-old from Bena, Minnesota. And when he arrived at Xcel Energy Center this morning, the first thing the Wild did was sign him to a 1-day contract.

(credit: CBS)

Then it was off to the bench to watch practice and meet his new teammates.

The Wild don’t expect Amare to be a vocal leader, which is good, because he’s kinda quiet.

“Pretty cool,” he said.

But he has quite a story to tell.

“I found out he had a heart problem when I was 20 weeks. He was not born with a lower left ventricle in his heart,” Amare’s mom Michelle Losh said. “He had open heart surgery at two weeks. Another open heart surgery at two months. And then he was two years old when he had his last heart surgery. He’s had eight all together. He’s been through a lot.”

By the time Amare reaches his 20s or 30s, he’ll need a heart transplant.

“It’s hard some days, but then I see the smile on his face, and it just warms my heart,” Losh said.

Especially on days like today, when Make-A-Wish lined this up. Amare’s wish was to meet his favorite player, Nino Niederreiter.

Why’s Nino his favorite?

“He goals a lot,” Amare said.

But the Wild did a lot better than that.

“I wanted to cry. But, I’m holding it back,” Losh said.

After morning skate, Niederreiter took Amare back into the locker room to meet all the players, and be part of the pregame meeting.

“He’s very quiet so it’s — just got a chance to introduce him to all the guys, show him the locker room, see where his stall is,” Niederrieter said. “And I think it’s a cool feeling to see what we do before the game, with the warmup in the morning and have a little meeting with the team. So trying to make sure he fits right in.”

A young Wild fan’s wish come true.

David McCoy


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