Hockey stars Kirill Kaprizov and Alex Ovechkin met Sunday with a beaming 9-year-old Landen Hoffmann, who survived being thrown from a Mall of America balcony four years ago.
Kaprizov, the injured Wild All-Star, and Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals' future Hall of Famer, met Landen after their teams played at Xcel Energy Center. The Wild won 5-3.
Landen, who plays organized hockey and told ABC-TV's "Good Morning America" that Ovechkin is his favorite hockey player, collected autographs and a Kaprizov jersey and posed for photos with the two NHLers from Russia.
Ovechkin was fresh off the ice, while Kaprizov met with Landen in a dress suit and knit cap.
Wayne Petersen, the Wild's director of community relations, said that Landen's love of the game was brought to the team's attention by a woman in Albert Lea, Minn., who saw a Twin Cities television report about the boy last month.
"She said, 'I'm just a hockey mom. I don't know this family. Is there something you can do?' " Petersen recalled. "You have one hockey mom looking out for another hockey mom."
The Capitals' management caught wind of Landen thanks to the "Good Morning America" segment and got Ovechkin on board.
Landen, whose family lives in Woodbury, was 5 years old when a man threw him from a third-floor balcony at the Bloomington mall in 2019. The boy suffered severe injuries that have caused a deterioration of his memory, adaptive skills and academic performance.
Emmanuel Aranda of Minneapolis pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and is serving a 19-year term. Aranda, who is now 28, is expected to be released from prison in 2031 and will serve the balance of his sentence under court supervision.