NEW YORK -- Florida Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson envisions helping players as a sports psychologist during life after hockey.
Matheson, 22, is a rookie, so it's something he doesn't necessarily have to think about right now. Still, preparing for the future is something readily available for any NHL player of any age with the launch of the NHL/NHLPA Core Development Program this season.
"It's a great resource for financial needs and education so if you want to pursue a certain degree with whatever level of education you're at, the CDP will help you with that," Matheson said. "Obviously philanthropy and getting involved in the community are also a big part."
Matheson, who spoke to NHL.com about the initiative while touring the NHL offices in New York on Tuesday, graduated from Boston College with a degree in Psychology.
"My main focus is just trying to get involved in something, charity wise," Matheson said. "I'm not sure exactly what I want to get involved in at this stage but I know the CDP would probably be a pretty good resource to explore those options."
The goal of the Core Development Program is allowing players an opportunity to develop a path to success off the ice and deliver a customized strategy to enhance their overall performance during their playing career.
"I think the program is huge, especially for young players just entering the League who aren't quite sure how to manage their money or manage being a professional hockey player," Matheson said. "At the same time, it's a great resource for players nearing the end of their career who have played hockey since they were 3-years-old and who really have only known life with hockey. Then, all of a sudden, it's gone.
"So figuring out what to do for the rest of their lives could be stressful."
Matheson has been associated with the program since entering the League, knowing it provides him the opportunity to gain the information he needs to make the right decisions about his future.
"I've always thought of staying in hockey (when I retire) and using psychology with hockey," Matheson said. "I find it interesting that everyone talks so much about how it's such a mental game. We spend so much time and effort on training our body and never really on the mental side of the game. I think I'd like to take my degree and keep it involved in hockey."
The Core Development Program is the newest educational program operated as part of the NHL/NHLPA's Player Development Program. The NHLPA and NHL also administer other development programs, including the Rookie Orientation Program.
The Rookie Orientation Program reaches players early on in their NHL careers and is designed to enhance life skills. Over the course of three days each summer, approximately 80-90 young NHL players attend the program and are educated on a number of topics.