There’s something special about an individual who can, somehow, quietly and subtly standout. That’s something Nick Suzuki accomplishes both on and off the ice practically daily.
The Montreal Canadiens forward has never been known for a big or loud personality, although, his play on the ice is anything but small or quiet – becoming an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Champion in 2019 with the Guelph Storm in arguably the loudest way possible as a key part of the team who staved off elimination seven different times, winning a pair of Game 7’s on the road before winning the Robertson Cup in six games. During that almost impossible run, Suzuki earned the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award as OHL Playoff MVP, leading all players with a Storm franchise record 42 points (16 goals, 26 assists) through 24 games.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg for the London, Ontario native – a five-foot-11, 201-pound centre who was recognized as the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player for a record three straight seasons, a feat that sums up Suzuki perfectly.
Now continuing to master quiet noise in the big leagues with the Montreal Canadiens, McFadden’s Movement is proud and excited to welcome Suzuki as he chooses to speak out as a MM27 Ambassador.
There’s a tonne of stress and thinking that goes in to hockey and everyone has to have someone to talk to about things going on, on and off the ice, so just to have someone beside you that you can go to is huge.
Introduced to the Movement by former Storm teammates, Suzuki – who was traded to Guelph following parts of four seasons, including a tenure as captain, with the Owen Sound Attack in January 2019 – received a MM27 wristband for a team picture shortly after arriving in the Royal City, and with yet another display of subtle leadership, hasn’t taken it off since.
“I was introduced to McFadden’s Movement by [Garrett McFadden] and my other friends from the Guelph Storm like [Isaac Ratcliffe] and [Nate Schnarr],” Suzuki explained, adding that he talks to someone from that “unbelievable” Storm team every single day. “I wear this bracelet since I’ve gotten it and it’s been on my arm since.”
No stranger to the tough obstacles and changes that hockey often brings, Suzuki recalls being traded to the Montreal Canadiens a year after being drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round as a difficult thing to process as a young kid on the brink of entering the league.
“When I got traded from Vegas to Montreal, it was a huge transition – I thought I was going to be in Vegas my whole career like every kid getting drafted,” Suzuki said of the trade that saw him, Tomáš Tatar, and a second-round pick (2019) go to Montreal in exchange for then Canadiens captain, Max Pacioretty in the September 2018 trade. “Getting traded is hard and I had to talk to my parents about it and they really motivated me, saying it was a good opportunity and my agent… it’s been nothing but great coming to Montreal, but at the time, I was just real worried. But at the end of the day, it turned out to be good.”
Traded to Guelph in January 2019, Suzuki and Garrett McFadden only crossed paths as opponents, with the 1999-born forward arriving to the former Storm captain’s aluminator a season after McFadden graduated the OHL ranks. Even so, the small hockey world and the shared connections brought the two former major junior captains together for the same conversation.
“We’re super excited to have Nick join the Movement as an Ambassador. Seeing the impact and ripple effect from our other Ambassadors and how their involvement with MM27 is helping to get others on board in our ultimate goal of growing that conversation is really cool,” McFadden said of Suzuki’s introduction to the Movement. “But the credit definitely goes to Nick and his willingness to get involved. He supported the Movement right from the start, getting traded to Guelph, given a wristband and from there, never took it off. To have someone as humble and genuine as Nick who is always willing to go the extra mile for not just the Movement, but for his teammates and the conversation we’re continuing to build is huge. We noticed his support right away and can’t thank him enough for jumping on board.”
Jumping on board is exactly what Suzuki has done, with no other intention but to continue making quiet noise in a conversation that, although has taken a lot of steps forward, still has a few more to take.
“There’s been a lot more conversations, guys having mental coaches, guys finding people who they can trust and go talk to… for myself, I have a few of those people so it’s definitely been a big movement,” Suzuki said of the progress made with athletes’ mental health. “I just want to be a support for anyone that’s going through any mental issues – just to be a part of this Movement is real special and I’m really looking forward to the future with it.”