We’re entering the final days of the NHL’s offseason, and things are certainly ramping up on the ice as teams begin to finalize their opening night rosters.
Off the ice, the stars are aligning in another light. Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews graced GQ Magazine in recent days, with interviews that touched on the NHL’s (lack of) fashion culture, as well as life both on and off the ice in Edmonton and Toronto, respectively.
It goes without saying that both Matthews and McDavid are stars in their own right. They’ve dominated the National Hockey League since first making it to The Show, and appear poised for big seasons once again for their respective clubs. That being said, a deep dive into the GQ interviews of these two stars might be enough to indicate that one of the two has already asserted himself as the better of the two.
I’ll give you a hint: he’s the one who doesn’t need a C on his jersey to make his presence know. He’s the boy in blue and white; the hero we all deserve.
Make no mistake; Auston Matthews graced GQ this week to tell us he’s the best of the best.
At A Glance
Anybody could tell you that the NHL is, for the most part, probably the worst of the worst when it comes to making fashion statements. PK Subban aside, these guys mostly are about as bland as they come.
To take this information and apply it to the above quote from Connor McDavid is especially damning for the Oilers’ superstar. The struggling Edmonton franchise has desperately needed a leader for years now, and it would appear their prayers have finally been answered. Connor McDavid leads the no fashion league in being probably the least fashionable player around. There’s skill, and then there’s raw, unadulterated skill. Good for him.
Taking our knowledge of the NHL’s conservative fashion culture, we shift our focus to Auston Matthews. Sure, Matthews already stunned the hockey world when he broke into the league with a 4-goal debut and a 40-goal rookie campaign, but it’s now clear that Matthews has no intention of stopping there. He’s setting the precedent left and right, from lighting up the league to brightening the fashion scene. Auston Matthews is making a name for himself, folks. And unlike Connor McDavid, that name is not just impressive; it’s impressively revolutionary.
Picture this: an American-born superstar as the face of the historic Toronto Maple Leafs franchise. Universally beloved by casual and diehard fans alike, from the moment the lottery balls first dropped in the Maple Leafs’ favor.
Auston Matthews’ life in Toronto is one filled with love, recognition, and celebration. Matthews, even without a C or even an A to his jersey, is the undisputed face of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Moms know it. Husbands know it. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if that baby’s first word was “Auston”.
That’s the weight that Auston Matthews carries within the city of Toronto. He’s a hero, and everybody knows it.
Take a minute to contrast Toronto’s treatment of Auston Matthews to Edmonton’s treatment of their captain, Connor McDavid. It’s a seismic shift in atmosphere. Their moods are sour; their appreciation has cratered.
Now, take a minute to ask yourself whether Auston Matthews has ever been treated the way Connor McDavid has. If you find yourself shaking your head, it means you’ve answered correctly. Matthews practically wills the love of those around him, and his GQ interview exemplifies it. McDavid? Quite the opposite.
At some point, you’ve got to ask yourself at what point “intangibles” like character, appreciation and fan support really start to matter. The exact answer may be elusive, though the end result is clear. Matthews has succeeded in eliciting these intangibles. McDavid has failed and, according to his GQ testimonies, he’s failed hard.
The Eye Test
To fully understand the magnitude of Matthews’ successes and McDavid’s shortcomings, it’s about time we considered the physical manifestations of the seeds they have sowed.
To cry “character issues” may seem extreme, but consider for a moment the fact that the face of the Edmonton Oilers graced GQ in a hoodie and a gray tarp that’s being passed off as a rain jacket. Say what you want about the NHL’s dress culture, but at least the idea of dressing for success is not lost on many players as a result.
The story here, however, is telling. Connor McDavid not only sounds dejected; he looks like a man who has already given up. At age 22, nonetheless. It’s a tragic story of being thrown into a situation in Edmonton that is likely as irreparable as McDavid’s instinctive fashion disposition.
The mark of a true leader, by comparison, exceeds words and testimonies of unconditional support. Indeed, leadership often manifests physically, and Auston Matthews is inarguably the torchbearer of these qualities.
He knows how to talk up himself and the city that’s welcomed and embraced him. That’s all well and good, but consider for a minute that Matthews has gone the extra step to dress like he runs shit. Why? Because he does.
Auston Matthews is the superstar that Leafs fans have been begging for for years; perhaps even decades. As a glowing bright spot at the end of a long dark tunnel, Matthews – unlike his counterpart out west – is quickly proving flashy enough to win his team the most coveted accessory of all.