Photo credit:© John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
“You’re my secret weapon” Auston Matthews and Tyler Bertuzzi make off-ice impact during All-Star break
By Alex Hobson20 days ago
Much like the Global Series in Sweden was the William Nylander show, Auston Matthews stole the spotlight during All-Star weekend in Toronto.
He and William Nylander finished fourth and third, respectively, in the NHL’s revamped Skills Competition, and Matthews took home all-star game MVP after scoring two goals and adding an assist to take down Team McDavid in the final of the all-star tournament. That said, we’re not going to focus on his on-ice impact from the festivities. If you want to do that, you can check out any of our recaps from the weekend’s events.
While he may not be making as many headlines for his off-ice impact, Matthews proved over the weekend that he’s not just famous for his ability to score goals. He spent a considerable amount of time at Sick Kids Hospital throughout the week, and established a connection with a young boy named Finn, who was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis; a disease that Matthews himself has a connection to.
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“My dad’s little brother had CF, and he’s actually the one who introduced me to hockey. Without him and without that connection, I’m not sure I’d be playing hockey.” Matthews said.
7-year-old Finn was tasked with designing skates that Matthews would wear during the all-star game. What he didn’t know was that Matthews would be surprising him during the designing process.
“I like how you score all the goals.” Finn pointed out. So do we, Finn.
It wasn’t the first time the two met; Finn has been receiving treatment for his condition at Sick Kids for nearly his entire life, and had his first introduction to Matthews four years ago. But, with the All-Star game in town, it was time for the two to reunite and collaborate on a design that would be seen on international television.
“It means a lot to be able to wear it on a big stage like the all-star game, and for Finn as well, to see his creation on TV and a bit of a world stage, I’m sure will be awesome.” Matthews continued. “But I’m really looking forward to it”.
Wear it, he did. And it wasn’t the last time the two of them met up. Finn had the opportunity to talk to Matthews after the game, where he was told he could keep the skates and was promised another game in the future.
“You’re my secret weapon. I need you around all the time.” Matthews told his longtime pal with a smile.
While he wasn’t participating in the all-star game, Tyler Bertuzzi got up to some of his own good deeds over the weekend, that said, nobody knew about it until he returned to practice on Sunday looking, well, different.
Taking the ice without the presence of his signature mop of hair on his head, the newly-clean-cut Bertuzzi initially hit Leafs fans with a jumpscare, but the motive behind the cut quickly backed up the decision to chop it off. He was continuing an annual tradition that started in 2022, when he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings; donating his hair to children with cancer.
Bertuzzi and his wife, Ashley, welcomed their second child into the world in Michigan two weeks ago. The barber who chopped his hair when the tradition began, a woman named Alyssa Bellestri who works with a charitable organization called “Wigs for Kids”, is also in Michigan, so the timing was perfect.
“It’s obviously tough for the kids, and the families.” Bertuzzi said, when asked why the cause is important to him. “Little things like that make a difference instead of just cutting it off and putting it in the garbage, so you may as well donate them.”
Bertuzzi has had a slow start to the season for his standards, with six goals and 20 points in 48 games so far this season, prompting many to initially believe the haircut was a hockey superstition to get his game going. The real reasoning behind the cut just goes to show that life goes way beyond hockey and that a couple of missed goals and assists don’t compare to what some families are going through in real-time.
Nevertheless, Bertuzzi says the team is ready to hit the ground running for the second half of the season, stressing the importance of consistency as the team gets set to play their remaining 35 games of the season. The Leafs are back in action tonight to host the New York Islanders at home.
“Good to get back to work, we’re all excited to get back on the ice and finish the second half strong.”
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