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Joseph Woll taking a larger role in Toronto community working with children’s hospital

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
12 days ago
It’s been a whirlwind year-and-change for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll, who may very well emerge as the team’s playoff starter in a few weeks. Woll has become an indispensable part of the team after a standout 2022-23 AHL campaign and with great power comes great responsibility.
This is more than an axiom for Woll, who is keenly aware of his civic duties that come with being a young, ascending member of the Maple Leafs. During Wednesday’s practice, which was amended to a skills session in large part due to injuries and maintenance, Woll was exceptionally gracious with his time, speaking to The Leafs Nation about his ongoing work with the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.
Woll first partnered with Holland Bloorview two years ago when he was with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, visiting the hospital once it was deemed safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. In conjunction with Alltroo, Woll is hosting the Rally For Kids with Disabilities with all donations going to Holland Bloorview. The rally ends on June 7, the winner will be announced on June 26 and they’ll receive two tickets to a 2024-25 Maple Leafs game, a signed stick from Woll, transportation and hotel accommodations and a guided tour of the dressing room with Woll.
“I was looking for a way to give back to the community and do something with kids and at that time, the Marlies had a good relationship with them so it just fit perfectly,” Woll told The Leafs Nation. “I was able to go on my first visit a couple of years ago and from there, I fell in love with the hospital.”
“It’s really important to me. We have this awesome campaign going but the only thing that really stopped me was the ability to get the word out and things like that. It’s a really cool partnership that I’ve had with Alltroo and I was trying to find a great way to get the message out and help fund Holland Bloorview. It worked perfectly with their giveaway.”
It’s been a long-standing tradition for the Maple Leafs to be actively involved with children’s hospitals and they’ve worked tirelessly to be a bright spot for children who are undergoing extremely difficult challenges in their lives. SickKids raised a banner in 2018 to honour Mats Sundin’s lifetime tenure with the organization and the Maple Leafs still make their annual visit to the world-class pediatric facility every year. It’s part of the civic legacy that extends beyond the ice and one of the great off-ice traditions the Maple Leafs have embedded into their routine.
Being involved with children is of paramount importance to Maple Leafs and especially Woll, who wanted to ensure that all children get a chance to meet their heroes.
“There’s a pretty good involvement team-wide with guys being present in the community,” Woll said. “For me, one reason why I joined Holland Bloorview was because they don’t get quite as much recognition and trust as other places like SickKids, with a lot of different funding and things like that. It was important to me too to support somewhere that is maybe less visited by people on the team and different things and hopefully bring some joy there as well.”
“The most rewarding part is a visit I’m able to take and be there in-person and learn how much a smile can do for a kid. And just being there and using something I love doing to help other people is pretty cool. This is just a way we’ve drawn up support to help them. For me, the most important thing for myself is being able to be a better person and have those experiences.”
Everyone is focused on Woll’s potential to help the Maple Leafs finally break through on an extended playoff run, but the 25-year-old has a once-hidden talent away from the rink. Woll has gone semi-viral for his piano renditions of the Interstellar theme by Hans Zimmer, performing the composition at the Blue and White Gala in January.
I asked Woll if he had considered performing the theme for the children at Holland Bloorview and he already beat me to the punch, telling me how he’s worked the song into music therapy classes.
“The research institute, they had a grand opening for the research institute last summer,” Woll told The Leafs Nation. “So they asked me to perform some piano for it. It was cool!
“A month or two before that, I had a visit, it was in a music therapy class with a couple of kids and had a really cool moment playing piano, that’s where it came from. I performed with one of the kids there with the ocean drum and the music therapist was singing over it, it was really cool.”
Woll is known to be a cerebral presence on the ice and I couldn’t help but think of the linkage between music and mathematics. Albert Einstein, for example, was a famed pianist and violinist. Brian May of Queen has a Ph.D. in astrophysics. So I asked Woll if he sees any commonalities between musicality and playing goaltender in the NHL. He took a few seconds to answer with a cacophony of pucks ringing off the Ford Performance Centre glass.
 
“If there is, I think it’s probably beneath my conscious mind for something I can adequately express,” Woll said. “Something recently I’ve thought about a lot is the freedom I feel playing piano, I don’t think too much about it, I just go and do it. And I think it’s something I’m working on to continue to find in hockey. It’s easy when you start playing hockey, you’re doing it just to play as a kid without a worry in the world. The closer an athlete can get back to that mentality, I think the more free and competitive they can play. It’s a good benchmark of a way to know what that flow and freedom is like and be able to compare it off the ice.”
This is a great quality to have and Woll appears to be at peace, with a 6-3 Tuesday loss to the New Jersey Devils clearly in the rearview. Woll is ensuring that children at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital have the best experience, and encouraged fans to enter the rally as he’s keenly aware of the responsibilities that are attached to being an ascendant figure in the Maple Leafs ecosystem.

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