What can be said about Auston Matthews that wasn’t said after his debut. He did something that Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky, Rocket Richard, Dave Keon, or any other NHL great has done, score four in his debut.
His legend was written long before the draft this spring. He set records for the under 17 American team and in Switzerland. He would go on to be one of the most hyped young players in the draft, and the first Leaf to be picked number one overall since Wedell Clark in 1985.
The rabid Toronto media was quick to anoint him, along with Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock as the saviours of a franchise who had not seen postseason glory since the NHL expanded in 1967. The first task for Matthews would be to tackle the Toronto media. He has shown surprising maturity in such a task, a task that took down several other stars, most recently Phil Kessel.
Then, after a decent training camp, opening night would come for the Leafs. Thankfully for the young team, the inaugural game of the centurion season would take place on the road against the Ottawa Senators. He would surpass all of the predictions as he would net four goals in his opening game. Sadly though, the Maple Leafs are not made with one man, and lost the lead to eventually lose the game in overtime.
Matthews proved that he has the talent to be here, and that he has the talent to be on the next list of Best 100 Maple Leafs Players. Perhaps in 20-plus years, Dave Keon, Syd Apps, and Darryl Sittler will have company. Perhaps by that time, in the capable hands of Brendan Shannahan, Lou Lammorillo, and Mike Babcock, the future is bright for the budding Toronto star.