Most heart-warming hockey moment, courtesy of Minnesota Wild

Why do we love the NHL?

There’s no definitive answer, but perhaps the most frequent one is “the players.” They’re not, by and large, the prima donnas and egotistical jerks that have come to define other sports. They embody, and uphold, their blue collar reputation. Somehow, we still feel like we’re connected with them, despite the distance between us economically and physically – what other pro sport has a pane of glass separating fans from athletes?

But that connection permeates that glass, as we’re reminded by this touching exchange between Charlie Coyle of the Minnesota Wild and a young fan from earlier this season that’s gone viral this week.

Awwwww … that’s pretty much the most adorable hockey image we’ve seen this year that didn’t involve puppies.

Here's the video:

Coyle’s 21 years old. He actually moved back in with his parents in the off-season of his rookie year. You watch this scene, you realize he used to be this kid. They all used to be this kid. And in that moment of acknowledgement, that moment of connection between pro athlete and appreciative fan, maybe that kid grows up to be him.