It all started at Gymstars at a Kids Club event on January 22. Logan, a 10 year-old hockey fan made a friend he’ll never forget, veteran Heat winger and alternate captain Matt Frattin.
“I met Matt [at Gymstars], it was fun there actually,” Logan said. “My favorite part being with him was when we played in the sports section and I was shooting soccer balls on him to see if I could score. I made one or two.”
A hockey fan all his life, Logan detailed his family’s lineage from Pittsburgh and their fandom for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but also talked about growing up watching Stockton Thunder (ECHL) and San Jose Sharks games. In fact, Logan was actually the photographer during the very first photographer during Kids Take Over Night during a Thunder game.
The notion of fans being so important to the sport isn’t lost on Matt either, who has treated every fan interaction he’s had in his career as almost a ‘hockey ambassador’. In Toronto, that role isn’t as necessary with nearly every kid already born with a stick in hand and a Maple Leafs sweater in tow, but in a non-traditional market like Stockton, California, he knew that he had a real chance to grow the game.
“Fans are the ones who come watch you play and the more we get the more hyped up we get,” Matt said. “In Toronto, all the kids know hockey and play it, but in Stockton you don’t have as much of that, so for me, trying to branch out the game in Stockton was the biggest thing. Logan never played, but if you reach out and get him inspired, perhaps he’ll pick the game up, or at the very least, be a lifelong fan.”
But there was something about the bond Logan and Matt shared that would continually provide touching moments for not only Logan and his family, but Matthimself. Like the game on January 27, just three days after meeting Logan at Gymstars, Matt flipped a puck to the young man during warmups.
— Jody Sicheneder (@jodypaquin) February 5, 2017
A while later after a big win over the Texas Stars to end the month of February, Logan remembers watching Matt walk down the tunnel towards his locker room, but he didn’t go in. Instead, Matt walked back and handed his stick to Logan, catching him by surprise.
— Jody Sicheneder (@jodypaquin) February 27, 2017
However, Matt and Logan’s friendship had a very cool finish to the end of the season. As most of you have seen, we talk to our players after the final game to close out the season, and we talked to Matt about developing relationships with fans, and as you can see from the video below, a “Logan” namedrop and the promise of a letter back brought a smile to a young fans face, and showcased a extremely touching moment his mother Jody was able to provide us all!
“I thought it was crazy that only he and I knew about it, but once my mom showed me that and that she told the bosses in Stockton how good a guy Matt is, I just thought it was amazing he mentioned me,” Logan recalls of watching the video for the first time. “I remember the smile and feeling like Christmas when I got my iPad. I went from looking at it, to smiling really big.”
“This smile was bigger.”
It wasn’t just Logan’s reaction that was amazing to watch though, but also Matt’s reaction of the video.
“How he reacted to was inspirational,” Matt said. “For myself, hockey is what I’ve always done, and I’ve talked to thousands of fans in my career, but to have a connection like this is special. A kid that you met could look up to you that much is incredibly inspiring to me.”
BUT the story doesn’t end here. After returning from a family vacation to North Carolina, Logan found a letter addressed to him in the mail. From who?
His new pen pal of course in Matt Frattin!
— Jody Sicheneder (@jodypaquin) June 15, 2017
“I thought it’d be one of those things where we got a chance to play with the hockey players and it would be, done, but it ended up being awesome,” Logan said. “I just think Matt’s an awesome person, he’s very kind, and he’s a great hockey player.”
For a lifelong Penguins fan, who’s been alive for three Stanley Cup wins, countless terrific players to choose as his absolute favorite including one player in Sidney Crosby who may go down in history as one of the all-time greats, when asked about who his favorite player is, Logan never hesitated to answer.
“Matt is my favorite player,” Logan said without skipping a beat. “Even if I made friends with Sidney Crosby, I’d still choose him over Sidney.”
Rewarding for a young man yes, but rewarding for a veteran hockey player in the same way.
“I’ve reached out to kids like that before, but Logan was different. He was something special in my life this year,” Matt explained. “A kid that looks up to you that much, pushed me to be the best role model I could be. So when he took the time to write me something, I did my best to write him back. I knew he’d appreciate it and I wanted to do it. As much as he got out of our friendship this year, I got as well.”
“That’s what makes me happy.”
— Jody Sicheneder (@jodypaquin) March 13, 2017
As for being Logan’s favorite player…even if Sidney Crosby and he were to make friends? Well that’s where Matt’s personality shines the brightest.
“I’m not sure if anyone but my family would say that,” Matt said