As Matisin sat in the stands behind the team bench inside Joe Louis Arena, forward Pavel Datsyuk skated up and waved her down to join him. A minute later, 14-year-old Matisin was on the ice with her hockey hero, passing the puck back and forth, as her family looked on. Matisin's heartfelt wish was to meet Datsyuk, step out on the ice and eat lunch with him. She checked off each of those on her wish list that day.
Matisin, who has end stage kidney disease, first attended the team meeting prior to practice where Coach Jeff Blashill introduced her to the guys before she watched practice. As the drills ended, Datsyuk invited her on to the ice where they passed the puck around before taking shooting tips from the expert. Known as the “magic man” for his moves on the ice, Datsyuk was impressed by Matisin’s trick shots that she had been practicing at home.
“Being able to have her out there and enjoy that moment means the world to me,” Matisin’s dad, Matt, said. “For what she has gone through, to have a day to enjoy what she wants to do means a lot to me and her.”
After practice, she toured the Red Wings locker room and met many of Datsyuk’s teammates before he joined her at lunch. Matisin and her family ate pizza and breadsticks. The fun and friendly conversation allowed her to get to know her hockey hero and tell him a little bit about herself, including showing off a video of her doing trick shots.
Matisin was invited to return to the Joe the next day to watch the Red Wings host Minnesota for an important game. The Red Wings beat the Wild 3-2, which helped propel them into the playoffs.
Her mom, Terri, described the wish as a life-changing moment for Matisin and a distraction from her medical condition: “I think it’s a tremendous opportunity for her to do. It fills up the voids of what she hasn’t been able to do – things other kids get to do in life. Words can’t describe it all. With everything she has gone through, it is something that will raise her spirits up. I think it’s a great, great opportunity.”