TORONTO — Michael Hutchinson made headlines last week when he was unexpectedly recalled from the minors to become the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ playoff backup goaltender. And then, just as quick as he arrived, he disappeared — hours before his club flew to Boston for Game 1.
Hutchinson had something more important to attend to than the Maple Leafs’ crease.
Here, in his own words, Hutchinson shares his story with us, smiling the entire while.
My wife, Jenna, she owns a bakery in Winnipeg.
Years ago, she was doing a custom cake and she had to paint the name on a disc for the cake. The person’s name was Lilah, so as she’s writing, she says, “That’s a really pretty name.” This was way before we were even thinking of kids. Then she said, “If I ever have a daughter, I’d love to name her Lilah.”
Right away, I loved the name too.
When I was in Springfield, Mass., playing for the AHL Thunderbirds this year, my wife went for a checkup and got an envelope with the baby’s gender inside.
She got her sister, Ashley, who also works at the bakery, to make gender-reveal cupcakes. My wife flew in to visit, and she had a box of cupcakes. She had that envelope for almost a month, though. I can’t believe she didn’t take a peek.
She wanted to wait for me to share that moment, so it was pretty cool that we did a gender-reveal to still get that surprise and still have time to get everything ready.
As soon as we found out we were having a daughter, we looked at each other.
It’d be cool to have a boy, but my wife has two sisters and a brother and just seeing how the girls take care of their dad later on in life, it’s something where if I only have daughters, I’ll be content with that. Having a boy would be something cool, too.
I’ve had a good mindset all season [despite switching cities three times]. I tried to be in a happy place and enjoy the moment. Since I’ve got to Toronto, it’s been easier to be in that mindset.
We had a doctor’s checkup last week, and the doctor said, “It’s probably best you get induced right away.”
The team was unbelievable. Kyle and Babs were really supportive of it, making sure I enjoyed the moment. They wanted the focus to be family first, even though it’s the playoffs. Hockey is hockey. Family is family. They were unbelievable.
She ended up having a C-section after a few hours of labour. I was there during it all.
My wife did an amazing job.
Her mom and her sister were able to fly in and be there for the birth. My parents drove in from Barrie, so it was great to have them all there.
It’s kinda funny, y’know? Going into it, I don’t do well with blood and stuff like that, but you’re so caught up in the moment that you don’t notice anything besides the baby.
I’m glad I cut the cord. Glad I was there for every single moment of it.
Hearing the baby cry for the first time and being able to hold her was just… unbelievable.
Six pounds, four ounces. We knew she’d be a bit smaller, but she’s happy and healthy. Just content. A great baby so far.
Everyone tells me she looks like more me. She has my mouth. I think she has her mom’s eyes. She has really dark blue eyes. It’s neat to see.
So, it was a couple nights just sleeping at the hospital, missing the first two games, but it was great.
The first game I watched in the hospital with my wife and her parents and sister. It’s a pretty surreal moment: holding my daughter and watching the Leaf game and enjoying it.
Then Saturday night, we had just got home from the hospital and were able to watch Game 2 a little more comfortable from there. A special experience.
Once the baby was born, all the guys were sending me texts. Jake Gardiner and his wife sent my wife Uber Eats gift cards. Everyone went above and beyond. We felt thankful for everyone in our lives who reached out.
I didn’t even realize Jake Muzzin and his wife are ready to have a daughter. We were out on the ice Monday, and he said, “Yeah, I got one coming too!” After the game, I’m sure we’ll have a big talk about it and hopefully everything goes as well for him as it did for me.
Now that I have a daughter, it’s a weird moment. This is the first time during a season where hockey wasn’t the No. 1 thing on my mind, where it wasn’t the No. 1 priority for a few days.
I’m excited to be back now and get back in my normal routine for the rest of my playing career, but it’s crazy how instantly having a child changes your whole life, your whole perspective.
My wife and my daughter have the same middle name. My wife thought it would be nice to share between the two of them.
Lilah Rae Hutchinson.
(Hutchinson’s words were edited for length and clarity)