TORONTO — With his disorderly conduct complaint now dismissed in an Arizona court, Auston Matthews offered a heartfelt apology for the actions that led a woman in Scottsdale to contact police following an incident involving the Toronto Maple Leafs star.
“I just want to reiterate again just how truly sorry I am for my actions and my behaviour,” Matthews said Friday. “I never meant to cause any distress to this woman and I can assure you that I’ve learned from my mistakes and my actions.
“It’s something for myself to just strive every day to be better in every aspect of my life.”
Matthews was part of a group that is alleged to have tried to enter the car of a female security guard, Fayola Dozithee, outside his condo building in the early hours of May 26. Dozithee told police that Matthews dropped his pants — but not his underwear — in her direction afterwards.
The parties reached a settlement in their case earlier this week. It was dismissed by the court on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old had emotion in his voice while addressing the topic with reporters for the first time since news broke about the incident near the end of training camp in September. He repeatedly expressed regret for his error in judgment and said the biggest thing he learned from his mistake was “how your actions can affect other people.”
“It’s something I had to deal with on a personal level,” said Matthews. “Obviously not a situation I’d like to be in, but it’s been a big lesson learned for myself.”
The incident took on even more life because Matthews didn’t tell Leafs management what happened during the off-season. General manager Kyle Dubas later told reporters that he found out about it while scrolling through Twitter in September.
The Leafs ended up passing over Matthews for the captaincy in favour of John Tavares at the end of camp, but Dubas has vowed to use this entire incident as a learning tool.
There doesn’t seem to be any lingering signs of bitterness between the organization and its highest-paid player.
“Any time something goes wrong in your life you just want to own it and get on with it as quick as you can,” said Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “Sometimes when you don’t like the way you handled something, or the way it went, that’s the hardest part for you. I think he’s done a real good job of owning this situation and moving on.
“Anybody who’s an athlete, anybody who’s in the public eye, has a responsibility to the public. We all know that. That doesn’t make it easy and we all make mistakes.”
In a statement Friday, president Brendan Shanahan said the Leafs are committed to developing and promoting the qualities of good character, respect and equality.
“While Auston has been an exceptional ambassador for the Leafs in representing those values, his conduct in this incident last May failed to meet expectations,” said Shanahan.
“We appreciate that Auston has publicly reiterated today that he is truly sorry for his conduct and has recognized the impact his actions caused. We have no doubt that he has learned a valuable lesson and will grow from this experience.”