Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is in Arizona to meet with star forward Auston Matthews with the intention of clearing up any differences, according to the Headlines panel on Hockey Night in Canada.
“The expectation is the two of them are going to talk or have talked this weekend as they try to air things out and fix things between them,” said Sportsnet insider Elliotte Friedman on Saturday.
Matthews scored 34 goals and 63 points in 62 regular-season games, but struggled mightily in the playoffs. The 20-year-old centre tallied just one goal and one assist as Toronto fell in seven games to the Boston Bruins in the first-round matchup.
Sportsnet insider Nick Kypreos suggested following the series that Babcock “lost” Matthews.
“It is common for star players sometimes to battle with their coaches for things such as ice time,” added Kypreos during Saturday’s Headlines segment. “But what isn’t that common is a week after [the Leafs were eliminated]. It’s clear that this is a priority for Babcock, who’s hoping to smooth things out so come training camp, everyone’s on the same page.”
Matthews has denied any rift, telling media during his end-of-season availability, “I don’t think it’s true at all. Stuff happens, people speculate. I can tell you right now it’s not the case.”