BROSSARD - Shea Weber performed several acts of kindness over the weekend, but one of them caught assistant coach Luke Richardson completely off guard.
Richardson was unaware that Weber had pre-selected Do It For Daron (DIFD) - a youth mental health initiative launched in memory of Richardson's late daughter, Daron - to be his charity of choice for any funds he secured during the Hardest Shot event.
Every shot that exceeded the 100.4 mph mark established by Hall of Famer Al MacInnis to begin the competition was worth a $5,000 donation, and Weber was successful on both attempts to ultimately secure a $10,000 gift for DIFD.
So how did Richardson learn of Weber's incredibly kind gesture? Well, it wasn't by watching the NHL All-Star Skills Competition from home.
He was actually in Boston with his wife, Stephanie, when the news broke. They were visiting their daughter, Morgan, who teaches in the Massachusetts capital.
"My best friend in Ottawa sent me a text message saying "Big day for DIFD" along with a purple heart. But there was nothing else. I didn't know what it meant at the time. I had no clue," explained Richardson, following Sunday afternoon's practice at the Bell Sports Complex. "Then Stephanie went online and saw the news, and she was the one who told me."
Luke and Stephanie were overwhelmed by Weber's show of support, and the former defenseman immediately reached out share his appreciation.
"I shot him a text just thanking him and just thinking maybe he'll get back to me, especially with everything happening in St. Louis. He must've been sitting with his phone in the dressing room because he texted me back right away. He said it was an easy choice for him," mentioned Richardson. "We were honored and very appreciative of the donation. I also congratulated him on winning the event. He's back on top of the world, and that's fun to see."
It's been just as fun for Richardson to get to know the Canadiens' captain since joining the fold in July 2018.
He has a great deal of respect for Weber both personally and professionally.
"That's the type of person he is. He's a fierce competitor on the ice. He hates to lose and hates to get scored on. He's very passionate. But as soon as he's off the ice, certain people can turn a switch on and off, and it's a different type of character. He's the same leader, but in a calm and very observant way," described Richardson. "He pays attention quietly and will do things quietly. I'm not surprised that he was involved in three or four things with kids over the weekend. A lot of the stuff we hear about is great, but there's definitely a lot more from someone like that."
It just so happens that DIFD will be front and center on Monday night in conjunction with "Hockey Talks Night" at the Bell Centre.
Players will be arriving at the rink sporting purple DIFD socks, and coaches will also be wearing purple DIFD ties.
"It feels like a real team atmosphere when something like that happens," said Richardson. "One in five Canadians suffers from or knows someone suffering from mental health issues. We're trying to break down the stigma and help people feel a little bit more supported. We want to let them know they're not alone. That's the whole message."
To learn more about DIFD, click here.
To purchase the DIFD socks and other DIFD items, click here.