Maple Leafs forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner to perform in ‘The Nutcracker’ ballet

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner both bring artistry to their work as two of the NHL's young offensive stars. They have both danced around a defender or two in their careers.

But those abilities will be tested in a different way Dec. 19 when they perform as celebrity "Cannon Dolls" in the presentation of "The Nutcracker" at the National Ballet of Canada.

Matthews told TSN of Canada he doesn't have ballet experience.

"As far as other (dance) stuff, I’m not terrible," said Matthews, who grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I’m not exactly the most agile person when it comes to dancing, so it’ll be interesting to see how I do there."  

Using celebrities in the Cannon Doll role is a National Ballet tradition. According to the company's website, the Cannon Dolls are "colorfully costumed" Russian Petrouchka dolls who shoot a confetti cannon into the audience to begin the battle scene in Act 1.

TSN sportscasters Darren Dreger and James Duthie, Arkells band members Max Kerman and Anthony Carone, and comedian Ali Hassen are among celebrities who will also appear in the role this season. 

Matthews (15 goals, 23 points) and Marner (six goals, 39 points) are not the first NHL to play in "The Nutcracker." Winnipeg Jets players Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba played a role in the Royal Winnipeg Ballet two years ago.

Matthews told TSN he's "nervous," despite having elementary school stage experience.

"They don’t have us dancing in fifth grade, though," Matthews said. "We’re just up there doing whatever. Could barely remember my lines."

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