Montreal Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki met students from Maple Grove Elementary School in Lachine this morning to reveal his latest charitable endeavour.
After helping to launch Goodfood’s Meal for a Meal initiative, a program that aims to drive donations to the Breakfast Club of Canada (BCC), the 24-year-old announced his own financial contribution of $10,000 to the cause on Monday.
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“When this opportunity came up, I was definitely eager to do it and just try to do my best to help these kids,” he explained to reporters. “Giving back to the community is something I want to do right now and in the future.”
When the London, Ontario, native walked into the gym, a sea of youngsters donning Habs gear got visibly excited by the captain’s presence, jumping at chances for photos and autographs. Despite the star treatment, though, Suzuki said he is trying not to let it all get to his head.
“I don’t see myself as this big celebrity. But yeah, it’s cool to see that reaction,” he said. “I want to make these kids’ days.”
Suzuki, who partnered with the non-profit animal charity Asista last week, told reporters that his recent community involvement is not just a result of his being named captain last summer.
“I’d be doing this even if I wasn’t captain,” he said. “These are things I want to pursue and have a heart for. It’s a great opportunity for me to get out in the community.”
And speaking of Canadiens captains doing good, Suzuki was not shy to admit that he wants to live by the standard set by the legendary Jean Beliveau, who was beloved as both a leader and Montreal community figure in the decades that followed his retirement.
“Beliveau was such an amazing man. I didn’t get to see him play or anything, but you just hear how people talk about him. It’s special,” Suzuki explained. “That’s the mark I want to leave when I finish my playing career.”
“I want to be more than a hockey player,” he added.
While it’s been a busy summer attending events throughout the city, Suzuki will soon return to his role as a leader on the ice with the Canadiens’ 2023-24 campaign kicking off on October 11.
He and the rest of the Habs will have a heavy load to carry as they attempt to ascend from the bottom of the NHL’s highly-talented Atlantic Division for the first time in two seasons.
“It’s probably the toughest division in hockey,” he said. “We’re probably getting slept on a lot.”
Despite the difficult circumstances, Suzuki remains optimistic, as a good captain should.
“I like that, being in that position right now. I’m really excited to get going.”