Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Auston Matthews isn’t taking hometown NHL All-Star Game experience for granted
By Steven Ellis22 days ago
Auston Matthews probably wasn’t deserving of the NHL All-Star Game MVP title, but who cares, right? It’s all for fun.
But, hey, from a marketing perspective, naming the local superstar as the game’s top player probably won’t hurt the news cycle.
Matthews’ team, captained by No. 34 himself and co-coached by Justin Bieber and Jim Montgomery, stole the spotlight in the end, beating a squad led by Connor McDavid to take the victory in the three-game set. It wasn’t great hockey, but it was better than what we’ve seen in recent years, and having the squad with all four Maple Leafs in the lineup didn’t hurt.
It was a special weekend for Matthews and Co., with the Maple Leafs showing off the city of Toronto to the world for the first time since 2000. No matter where you went, it seemed like everyone – fans, restaurants, you name it – was all in on making it the best event possible.
In a season of ups and downs, getting the chance to have just a little bit of fun – while taking home a nice chunk of change – never hurts.
“I think the weekend itself was special for all of us, especially as the host city,” Matthews said in the post-game. “It’s nice to cap off with the win and everybody goes home happy.”
Matthews’ team won both games, with the Arizona native scoring two goals and an assist. Mitch Marner had a goal, while Morgan Rielly and William Nylander each had an assist in the final game. None of the four really factored into the top-end of the NHL Skills Competition race on Friday, but they easily got the biggest cheers.
“It was good,” Matthews said Friday. “I thought it was a lot of fun, pretty competitive. Obviously, as it started to wind down, guys were putting in some pretty big efforts.”
Having his good buddy Bieber on the bench made Saturday extra special, too. Bieber was fully engaged the whole time, doing special events throughout the city and even helping to design the uniforms.
“It was awesome,” Matthews said about Bieber’s participation. “He really enjoyed it. It was cool to have someone like him and the other celebrities here. They were so down to earth and engaging.”
Matthews won’t get much time to recoup, with the Leafs returning to practice on Sunday before hosting the New York Islanders on Monday. So it wasn’t really a break for Big Papi, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Matthews was just happy to be part of the whole thing, and the accolades were just icing on the cake.
“Couldn’t have written it up any better than this, being here in Toronto,” Matthews said.
Recent articles from Steven Ellis