Season Recap: Stefan MatteauAug 4, 2020
Prior to the start of the 2019-20 season, Stefan Matteau signed an American Hockey League contract with the Cleveland Monsters having one main goal in mind: proving he deserved a spot in the National Hockey League.
“I sat down with [Stefan] at the start of the season and got his background on coming into the league so young,” said Monsters Head Coach Mike Eaves. “He signed the American League deal to give him a chance to make something happen here. He may be in his mid-20s, but he is a veteran. He has been around pro hockey a long time.”
With his experience backing him up, Matteau brought both leadership and top offensive skills to the Monsters right from the start. Making his debut in mid-October, the Chicago, IL, native logged his first tally for Cleveland on October 12 and extended his goal streak into the following matchup.
Recording a new personal high for points, Matteau led all Monsters skaters throughout the year with eight multi-point games while also tying a personal record of a three-point outing. Matteau additionally contributed to the offense tying for the team lead with 12 goals which included three shorthanded tallies.
“What we saw from [Stefan] was laser focus on what he wanted to achieve, and that was getting back to the NHL,” said Eaves. “It was in everything he did… The way he prepared for practice, the way he practiced, the way he prepared for games and how he played in them.”
By February, the veteran’s focus was rewarded when he signed a two-year NHL deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Matteau made the most of his opportunity and spent the rest of the regular season with the Monsters parent club.
Matteau showcased his skills scoring a goal in his Blue Jackets debut on February 20 and stretched his point streak over three games including a second tally on February 24. The forward appeared in nine games before the regular season ended and most recently was a part of the 31-man roster Columbus brought into the 2020 Playoffs.
For Eaves, watching the veteran’s path this year starting from an AHL contract to earning a spot on a NHL roster was just a culmination of Matteau’s focus, hard work and lessons learned.
“Things were coming all together [for him] to understand what it took to become a ‘professional’, but it was not always an easy path,” said Eaves. “He had to check off a couple boxes [before going to the NHL], but when he finally got his chance, you really saw that this young man could play up at that level.”