He gave goaltenders nightmares during his 10-year tenure with the Edmonton Oilers, but staff at the Cross Cancer Institute feel Glenn Anderson also gave patients dreams full of hope.

The NHL Hall of Famer would use every goal he scored as a chance to raise thousands in cash for cancer research, and the player was known to make unannounced visits to the hospital just to greet patients.

“He would very quietly, anonymously, show up to pay a visit to see patients,” said Jane Weller, a senior development officer with the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

“What a lot of people didn’t know is that he spent countless hours with patients.”

Weller says she was in a 19-year-old patient’s room during one surprise visit from the speedy Oilers forward. The patient was lying on the bed and looking out the window as his father sat with him, until a nurse came into the room and asked if he’d like to see a visitor.

“He didn’t really respond, and he looked and saw Anderson, and, oh my goodness, he just sat up in bed,” said Weller.

“Glen, in true tradition, didn’t just stay and make some idle chitchat … he followed up with the patient the next day because he wanted to come back and see that young man, but he died that night.

“It just brings you to tears, and that’s what Glenn meant to the patients.”
Anderson, who couldn’t be reached for comment, has said he’s proud of what he accomplished for cancer research and patients.

“I wasn’t only playing for my teammates on the ice, I was also playing for them,” said Anderson during a news conference last fall.

“It made me a better person and a better player … I had a lot more on the line.”
Anderson’s No. 9 will be retired at Rexall Place on Sunday, joining Wayne Gretzky, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri and Mark Messier as honoured Oilers.

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