The captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs popped into Barrie on Thursday to talk about his charitable organization, the upcoming Boots and Hearts Barn Burner charity game and, of course, the ongoing quest for the Stanley Cup.
John Tavares and his wife, Aryne, met with local Rotary Club members and guests at the Southshore Centre this afternoon to discuss the John Tavares Foundation and its core values of encouraging youth to eat healthy, be active and practise mindfulness.
During the luncheon, which included about 100 people, Tavares accepted a $10,000 cheque from Barn Burner organizer Alex Nuttall, while Rotary Club of Barrie president Chuck Boldt announced that six Ukrainian children being sent to camp by Rotary will be done in the Tavareses' name.
Tavares is among several high-profile players who will participate in the Boots and Hearts Barn Burner hockey charity event on Wednesday, Aug. 3 at Sadlon Arena. He told BarrieToday he was happy to be involved for many reasons.
“My wife and I have been to Boots and Hearts a few times. Her side of the family especially love it," he said of the local country music festival. "It's great how they want to give back to the community and all their doing for the local area. I spend a lot of my off-season in the Simcoe County-Muskoka region, so it seemed like a perfect fit.”
The charity hockey game raises money for a number of local causes, one of which this year is Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre’s neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU.
Tavares said he was glad to see his foundation join together with the Barn Burner event for the day, "to be able to help each other and do great things for the community, (and) bring the community together.
"Something that means a lot to us is bringing people together and giving back and doing a lot of good,” he added.
The John Tavares Foundation has helped several organizations, most notably Special Olympics Canada, Halton Food for Thought and Rexdale Youth Mentorship.
Joining Tavares at the Boots and Hearts Barn Burner game will be local resident and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Mike Gartner, free-agent Sam Gagner, former power forward Gary Roberts, Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin, and many more.
But how do you prepare for a game like this?
“The intensity at the beginning is a little more lighthearted, a little more fun, but I think you want to be ready for the third period as things always seem to pick up as the game goes on,” Tavares said.
And what about bringing a Stanley Cup home to Toronto?
“I think we’ve got a really good team and you just never know,” Tavares said. “As far as a parade, I think I’ll leave the planning to fans and others — we’re just going to focus on the season.”
As for the Boots and Hearts Barn Burner game, doors open at 5:30 p.m., with puck drop to follow at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available at the link here.