From sitting at home and watching favorite players Shane Doan and Daniel Brière on his television screen, to being drafted first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Auston Matthews was always a talent in the sports industry. He was born in San Ramon, California to parents Brian and Maria. Matthews then moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he grew up, as an infant.
FUN FACT: Auston’s favorite movie is The Mighty Ducks.
Quickly becoming infatuated with sports, Auston fell in love with the Phoenix Coyotes and started attending games at the age of two. At first, it wasn’t about the sport. Young Matthews was fascinated by the Zamboni on the ice. That would change when he started playing in the Arizona Bobcats program at the age of 5. When he began playing, his parents knew nothing about the sport. This wasn’t the only sport that he would play. Matthews also played baseball and excelled at both sports. Matthews is from a family of athletes. Both his father and grandfather played baseball and his uncle played in the NFL. According to his father, Auston was better at baseball because he has great hand-eye coordination, making him an excellent hitter. Despite baseball being his strong suit, Matthews hated how slow pace the game was and liked the face pace of hockey better. He also got the opportunity to play with the ZSC Lions in Switzerland.
FUN FACT: Matthews speaks a little Spanish due to his mother’s Mexican heritage.
Fast forward to summer of 2016, drafting season. All analysts knew Auston would be picked first overall, but his destination was unknown until the winner of the draft lottery was revealed. Here comes June 24, 2016, the first day of the NHL Entry Level Draft. As predicted, Auston Matthews was selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the first American born player to be selected first overall since Patrick Kane in 2007. With a struggling Leafs team, Matthews would be with the team for the beginning of the 2016-2017 season with fellow rookies Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Zach Hyman. He made his NHL debut on October 12, 2016, the first game of the regular season, against the Ottawa Senators. In this game, Auston achieved many feats. He scored four goals, all within the first two periods. Matthews became one of only 5 players to have a hat trick in their NHL debut and the first number one overall pick to do so. He is also the first rookie to ever have four goals in his NHL debut. Matthews’ efforts would conclude the Leafs’ scoring as they go on to lose the season opener 5-4 in overtime.
FUN FACT: Auston’s favorite athlete growing up was Kobe Bryant.
After only half of an NHL season, Matthews, along with the afore mentioned rookies, has proved to be a key component to the Leafs’ present and future success. At the time this was written, Matthews had 31 goals on the season, tied with Patrik Laine for the lead among rookies. The Toronto Maple Leafs are already in a better position than they were last season and if their players continue to be productive, the future proves to be bright. With that being said, the Maple Leafs will most likely, fingers crossed, make the playoff this year in effort to bring the Stanley Cup back to the city of Toronto for the first time since 1967.