Matthews, Marner showcase talents during performance of ‘The Nutcracker’

The Toronto Maple Leafs had off Wednesday night, but Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner were still called upon to perform — except this time it was unique unique circumstances.

As part of its annual tradition of using celebrities to act as Cannon Dolls, the National Ballet of Canada’s performance of The Nutcracker featured the two Maple Leafs forwards stepping out of their comfort zones and starring in a different light. Their job was simply to dress as Russian Petrushka dolls and shoot off a cannon, which they did successfully.

“I’m actually kind of interested to see how things play out and it’s a big debut,” joked Leafs forward Nazem Kadri. “This could lead to something bigger and better after hockey.”

The pair looked like naturals in their ballet debut, especially Matthews, who admitted he was a tad nervous ahead of the big performance.

The dressing room will certainly be a lively one when they both arrive for Thursday’s morning skate.

“I think they will be outstanding. Good opportunity for them,” said head coach Mike Babcock earlier this week. “I think it’s important to have other things going on in your life besides hockey, so they will have a good laugh and we will have a good laugh at them.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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