Almost two years ago, Matteau helped create a leadership program for Bronx elementary and middle school students in partnership with Woodlawn Cemetery. He has visited about 50 schools.

“I struggled with a lot of things the kids go through, being bullied, feeling hopeless,” Matteau said. “I want them to know they can change their own lives.”

Matteau, who lives in Montreal, has also been mentoring at-risk teens at River Rock Academy, an alternative school, in Lancaster, Pa. His wife of 24 years, Nathalie, frequently participates in the Lancaster programs, a reaffirmation of her belief in her husband, who seldom believed in himself.

“What that woman has endured with me,” he said, “it’s a miracle she refused to lose hope.”

Both his children play hockey. His son, Stefan, 25, is a former first-round draft pick of the Devils who now plays for the Vegas Golden Knights’ top affiliate, and his daughter, Alyson, 21, is a senior on the University of Maine women’s hockey team.

Several years ago, Matteau coached a Quebec junior team that his son played on, and things frequently grew tense.

“I was hard on Stef,” Matteau said. “I didn’t want him to make the same mistakes as me.”

His wife interceded, reminding Matteau of the pressure his own father put on him.

On a blustery January day, Matteau visited P.S. 69 in the South Bronx for a session with 20 fifth graders. He is a big man at 6 feet 4 inches and a only few pounds over his playing weight, 220. With casual humor, he easily connected with a multicultural group of children in his French Canadian accent.