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At home with Matthias

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Who is Shawn Matthias?

The 26-year-old forward, acquired alongside Jacob Markstrom from Florida last March, came to Vancouver and quietly did his thing. He worked hard, trained hard, played hard.

When we met up with the native of Mississauga, Ontario, Thursday morning, he was up to his usual tricks: working hard and training hard so this season he’ll be able to play hard.

By the end of the day we were no longer asking who Shawn Matthias is and neither will you.

9:45 a.m. – Matthias begins his workout at Athlete’s Zone; he works with trainer Jim. This is Jim’s gym. The schedule for the nearly 90 minute workout is laid out for him and involves 20 minutes of functional training (joint mobility, dynamic flexibility, muscle activation), a 20 minute power circuit (hanging row, oblique chop toss, push-up jumps), 25 minutes of upper body strength training (chin-ups, bench press, reverse flies) and 15 minutes of core training (elbow bridges, lat presses, arm bridges).

10:00 a.m. – “This is awkward, I’ve never worked out in front of a camera before,” laughed Shawn. “I feel good today though, I talked to Jim Benning yesterday and we discussed the season, so I’m pumped. He told me he tried to trade for me when he was in Boston. That’s nice to hear."

10:21 a.m. – Matthias is putting everyone else in the gym to shame with his effort. “Shawn is 100 per cent or nothing,” said trainer Jim. “When he works out, he works out like a madman.”

10:22 a.m. – “Hey, can you guys come follow us on the golf course later?” asked someone riding a bike behind Rory and I. “I swear I’d be the best golfer if cameras were rolling, I wouldn’t miss a shot!”

10:43 a.m. – Shawn huffs and puffs, but always smiles after pushing himself. He loves working out and has seen the benefits: he was second in fitness at Florida Panthers camp last season and first the season prior. If today is any indication of how he trains all summer, he’ll be tops in Vancouver’s camp too – although the Sedins may have something to say about that.

11:30 a.m. – Let’s eat. “I hope you’re hungry my friends,” said Chris, owner of Jessie’s restaurant near Matthias’ gym. Shawn comes here every day after he works out, without fail. He’s been doing that for nearly 10 years and we find out why in a hurry. The food is delectable. Chicken. Rice. Salad. Tzatziki sauce so good I nearly slurped it out of the bowl like soup. And for those wondering, Jessie’s was named after former Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jesse Barfield.

12:30 p.m. – En route to a sail, Rory and I ride with Shawn in his Tahoe with Florida plates. We take Twitter questions, but the best findings come from follow-up questions. Three things:

1 – Matthias’ nickname is Danger. He wouldn’t tell us why, only that it involves him “not being a good fighter.” He didn’t think the nickname would follow him to Vancouver, but upon meeting Kevin Bieksa for the first time, Juice said “I hear they call you Danger…” So much for keeping it under wraps.

2 – Shawn was water skiing when he was 15-years-old. He went outside the wake for the first time, was feeling pretty good about himself and whammy – his left leg went left, right leg went right and he tore his gluteus maximus off the bone. Wisely, he hasn’t water skied since.

3 – When Shawn was 18-years-old he took a puck to the mouth. He lost five teeth. His front two were rebuilt and he had fakes in the bottom that he could put in and out. Matthias lost a few of them and a dog ate another, so he just rocks a mouth with a few missing bottom chicklets. Opposite of Zack Kassian. Badass.

1:18 p.m. – We arrive at the Humber Sailing and Powerboating Centre. Shawn’s girlfriend Sarah is now with us. Jennifer, Scott, Bryant and Deb are there to great us as we lifejacket up and board the Ceilidh. Shawn and Sarah started taking sailing lessons earlier this summer; they’d taken six lessons prior to this voyage and all with a different boat. His dad sailed, so Shawn was exposed to it as a youngster and he wanted to try something new this summer, so sailing lessons it was.

1:29 p.m. – “I’m nervous!” said Matthias. “I’m no pro at this, I’m so going to screw up with all the cameras rolling.”

2:00 p.m. – We hit the water. Let the relaxation begin, kind of. There’s a lot of action between Shawn, Sarah, instructors Jennifer and Bryant, Rory, Jessica, Jason and myself. And the former four are all speaking in a different language, a secret sailing language. We try to stay out of their way, which is impossible.

2:34 p.m. – As Shawn and Sarah take turns at the helm, Jason (who claims to know sailing) fiddles with a rope. Shawn sees and tries his hand at some fancy pants knots. “The rabbit goes in the hole, around the tree and back down the hole,” he said under his breath. Nailed it?

3:32 p.m. – Docked. What a ride. Matthias knows his stuff. And no one hit their head on the boom all trip – OUCH. Oops. You okay Sarah? OUCH. Double oops. Jason’s turn for a goose egg. OUUUUCH. Triple oops. Sarah again. That’s gonna leave a mark.

5:00 p.m. – The Matthias home, final stop on our tour, is beautiful. The family moved here when Shawn was six-months-old and despite their nice upgrades and renovations, “it's different, but it’s still home,” said Shawn. His room is upstairs, first door on the left. He shows off his trophies and photos, jokingly cusses the single bed “that a 6-foot-4 kid shouldn’t have had to sleep in” and shows us his jersey collection. He’s worn numbers 06, 41, 12, 22, 18 and 27 in his hockey career, and he was No. 12 in AAA. He’s all over the map.

5:15 p.m. – “Want to see my gold medal from the 2008 World Junior Championships?” Matthias asked. Heck yes. “It’s in this drawer, I think. It’s just the most important memento of my hockey career, of course I can’t find it.”

5:16 – 5:18 p.m. – (Noise of awkward shuffling through drawers…)

5:20 p.m. – As Shawn shows us the chalk marks on his garage wall that he used to show his dad how many shots he was taking each day, Bonnie, his mom, runs outside holding the World Junior medal and championship ring. Mom to the rescue. “I put it in the secret hiding spot so it wouldn’t get lost!” Matthias reveals he measured his fingers wrong and the ring is way too big. He’s never actually worn it.

6:00 p.m. – Shawn is off the clock having done his last interview with Canucks TV. His friends are over and the sun is out, so they chill poolside and talk about the good old days. I wish I could repeat some of the stories that were shared. Hilarious. I can tell you that Shawn was an adorable baby, a big baby indeed, and that going through photo albums of him growing up made for some laughs. I’m not saying I took pictures of pictures, but I definitely did.

7:00 p.m. – A feast is served. Nom, nom, nom.

8:00 p.m. – “Where’s Shawn?” I asked Rory. A quick scan of the backyard reveals five people are missing and we find out why a few minutes later when Shawn, Sarah and his buddy Deron emerge from the house holding guitars. It’s showtime.

8:20 p.m. – That’s a wrap on Shawn Matthias. It’s tough to compare hometown visits between players, but Danger definitely stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park. You can’t help but cheer for his guy once you get to know a little about him; good luck finding a Matthias jersey in the Canucks Team Store after the footage of our visit airs.

Who is Shawn Matthias? He's a beauty.

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