TORONTO – Bad news for NHL goaltenders: Auston Matthews’ left wrist is on track to be recovered for Opening Night.
“I'm definitely not worried about it,” Matthews, wearing a splint, told Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek Monday during a recording of their 31 Thoughts podcast.
The Toronto Maple Leafs' star and reigning Rocket Richard Trophy champ elected to undergo surgery to clean up his “nagging” wrist injury Aug. 13. The decision to have surgery was made after consultation with specialists and Toronto's medical staff.
Matthews’ recovery was estimated to need a minimum of six weeks, which takes him to the brink of training camp.
But why wait until mid-August to fix a problem that had been hindering the sniper all winter?
“I was able to kinda get it calmed down a little bit,” Matthews explained. “So, after the season we went through that whole process to just kind of see how it goes and see if it feels any better.”
After a rest, Matthews began ramping up his on-ice workouts in Arizona. That’s when the wrist called for more attention.
“It just didn’t feel right, so I decided to get another opinion and imaging and stuff like that and clean it up a little bit,” Matthews said.
“It’s nothing serious. So I'm happy we got it done.”
The procedure did derail linemate Mitch Marner's summer plans to fly down to Arizona, train alongside his centreman, and work on their chemistry.
Instead, Marner trained at the Montreal BioSteel camp before training camp.
“We’ll definitely coordinate for next summer,” Marner said.
Matthews is expected to return to the ice next week; the splint should be removed in two weeks.
Despite his injury, the 23-year-old led the NHL with 41 goals in 52 games in 2020-21. He scored just one playoff goal in the Maple Leafs’ seven-game elimination by the Montreal Canadiens.
The collapse still stings.
“I think it's hard not to [think about it], in a sense, but there's nothing that I can do to obviously change that, unfortunately. So, I really just try not to get too hung up on it,” Matthews said.
“Now, it’s a new season, it's a new year. There's nothing we can do to change that. So, our focus is on the present and moving forward and putting our best foot forward.”
The Leafs open their 2021-22 campaign on Oct. 13 at home against Montreal.
Matthews’ full interview will be featured on an upcoming episode of 31 Thoughts.