Ugly sweaters and acting debuts, Matthews stars with SickKids

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews has teamed up with Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds for a fundraising ad in support of SickKids.

Ugly sweaters and acting debuts, Matthews stars with SickKids

Feature photo: IG/@MapleLeafs

The iconic red, green and gold ugly Christmas sweater made its annual appearance as Auston Matthews teamed up with Canadian actor Ryan Reynolds in support of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) in Toronto.

Reynolds had a bigger vision for how this year’s campaign would go and provided Matthews with an offer he simply could not refuse.

"It was cool to be a part of his [Reynolds’] campaign in his commercial this year and I think it turned out really well. He’s obviously very good at what he does and is great with the comic side of it, he’s pretty brilliant,” Matthews said as he reflected on his viral cameo appearance, which also included Canadian Grammy Award winning singer, Michael Bublé.

While Matthews admitted he needed a few takes, it’s fair to say everyone nailed the final cut.

"I needed a lot," Matthews admitted. "I mean it was slightly me and slightly the little girl that was screaming there. We had a couple of different takes for that. But she was great. It definitely took me by surprise that first scream. But we got it locked in and yeah it turned out pretty well."

On the ice, Matthews also continues to impress since beginning his season with consecutive hat tricks. The forward has posted 26 goals through 29 games as he attempts to capture his third Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. 

Matthews repped the iconic ugly sweater on December 14 for his pre-game outfit as he fashionably does each year. The 2021-22 Ted Lindsay Award recipient went on to put up three points, including two goals as the game’s second star.

Since his league debut in 2016, Matthews has remained dedicated to SickKids, using his platform to help fundraise while maintaining monthly visits with the hospital’s cystic fibrosis patients.

“It just kind of worked out,” Matthews told The Athletic. “They have one of if not the biggest research departments for cystic fibrosis (in the world) there.”

It was his father, Brian, who initially encouraged him to find a way to become involved with the community when he arrived in Toronto. Matthews’ decision to work with SickKids was inspired by his late uncle, Bill, who introduced him to hockey. Unaware of the Maple Leafs’ longstanding relationship with SickKids, his uncle’s untimely passing from cystic fibrosis was the biggest motivating factor in Matthews’ choice.

"Having a connection with cystic fibrosis, everything just kind of made sense and the stars aligned and we’re able to meet some great people over there and just kind of build and form a relationship," Matthews said.

This holiday season also marked the return of the Maple Leafs organization’s special visits to SickKids, with meets having been done virtually since 2019 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The club and players, Matthews included of course, finally got the chance to do so during a short break between games just last week.

"It's always a very powerful visit," Matthews said. "Not only for the kids, but I think for players as well."