Keefe expands on Matthews’ illness, views bench fight as ‘progress’

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe provided an update on Auston Matthews’ status after the superstar forward was pulled from Saturday’s Game 4 against the Boston Bruins.
Matthews was ruled out after the second intermission with an initially undisclosed reason but Keefe revealed Saturday that the team’s doctors made the decision to take him out of the game due to a lingering illness he’s been fighting through.
Keefe provided further details during Sunday’s media availability.
“For whatever reason, it’s not one of those run-of-the-mill everyday type of illnesses that sort of come and go,” Keefe said Sunday via The Athletic’s Chris Johnston. “This one has lingered. The affects have lingered and gotten worse when he gets on the ice and is asserting himself.”
Matthews has been Toronto’s best forward throughout the series despite the illness, authoring a superlative performance during a 3-2 victory in Game 2. It’s been a dreadful series for the Core Four overall, and tensions reached a boiling point during Saturday’s 3-1 loss.
While the Maple Leafs were trailing 2-0 during the second period, Matthews and William Nylander were caught getting into heated discussions with Mitch Marner, who threw his gloves off in frustration. Nylander appeared to tell Marner ‘stop f—ing crying, bro’ on the bench, as the Maple Leafs capitulated on home ice.
Keefe seemed to think the inflamed bench discussion was a net positive.
“I look at it as something that happens when things aren’t going well,” Keefe said via Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun. “But in the past, they wouldn’t have talked it out, or argued it out. I look at it as progress, them being pissed off they didn’t deliver. I don’t look at it as frustration.
“The remainder of the game, the next opportunities we had, the 6-on-5, those things, they’re working together, making a plan, talking during (second) intermission. They’ve been together a long time, they know they’re important to the team.”
All you can hope is that Matthews heals ahead of Tuesday’s potentially franchise-altering Game 5. Toronto has been unfortunate with injury luck as Nylander missed the first three games of the series due to a migraine.
The Leafs Nation will update this story as further developments unfold. 

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