MONTREAL – Sven Andrighetto travelled to a few European hotspots over the summer, but one trip in particular really stood out from the rest.
Back on August 3rd, the 23-year-old right-winger made the three-hour drive from his offseason home in Zurich to the Leysin Sport Academy to pay yougnsters at the Canadiens Hockey School a surprise visit.
When Andrighetto heard that the program was making its second annual visit to his native Switzerland, he jumped at the opportunity to participate.
“When I found out they were coming, it was a no-brainer that I was going to be there, especially with it being in Switzerland. I remember it was a beautiful day and such a great spot up there in the mountains,” said Andrighetto, who was proud to don his Canadiens No. 42 jersey on home soil. “The kids had no idea I was coming. Seeing the smiles on their faces when they saw me stepping onto the ice with them was something special. They were all so excited and they couldn’t believe it. We scored goals. We were celebrating. To make their day really made my day, too.”
In addition to hitting the ice with campers and helping them work on their skills, Andrighetto spent some quality time with them away from the rink as well. He signed autographs, posed for group pictures and selfies, and answered all kinds of questions during his stay.
“They talked to me about who I’ve played with over the years, if I know this and that guy, and if I’ve played against [Sidney] Crosby or [Jaromir] Jagr before. They also asked me about playing in the World Championship. I was pretty impressed by just how much they knew about me,” recalled Andrighetto with a smile. “For me, it was great because they knew who I was. They were looking up to me. They saw me play for the Swiss National Team in Russia, so it was nice to be able to get in contact with them.”
Andrighetto says he didn’t have a chance to attend something similar to the Canadiens Hockey School when he was growing up. He still understands what meeting an NHLer meant to these kids, though. When Swiss National League players used to come out to his practices in the junior ranks, he was simply awestruck. With those experiences in mind, the former QMJHL standout wanted to make it as memorable a day as possible for all in attendance.
“It was really important to me that I gave to these kids the same way other players had given to me when I was younger. I started out just like they did. I was looking up to these guys. It was always important to me when a player came down and talked to our team to get a high-five or an autograph. I know how much it means to them right now,” said Andrighetto, who clearly takes his role model status in Switzerland seriously. “I wish they had something like this when I was younger. It’s awesome for these kids to have the chance to be there.”
Andrighetto, who returned to Montreal on Monday, spent the majority of his offseason in Zurich training with friends Mirco Mueller (San Jose Sharks), Dean Kukan (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Ronalds Kenins (Vancouver Canucks), as well as several current National League players. Two personal trainers put them through a program in a CrossFit facility downtown that the Canadiens young gun is hopeful will pay serious dividends for him come the start of the year.
“I’m looking forward to training camp. I’m interested to see what I can do on the ice. I’ve put in a lot of work this summer. I’ve seen the results off the ice, so I’m eager to see how it adapts to on-ice situations,” said Andrighetto, who played a career-high 44 games with the Canadiens last season, amassing seven goals and 17 points along the way. “I know that I can play at this level now and I know what I have to do to stay in the lineup on a regular basis. Having a good tournament at the Worlds helped my confidence, too. I know I can do it.”
Matt Cudzinowski is a writer for canadiens.com.
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