Being Auston Matthews in Toronto must be pretty weird. Much of the city's hopes for a return to success for the Maple Leafs seem to rest on the 22-year-old's shoulders. And, at a media briefing on March 9, comments from Auston Matthews' fans were notable as he admitted it can be difficult sometimes not to be drawn into negative reactions from supporters.
The Leafs have had to face increased frustration from success-starved fans on occasions this season. The team has struggled with a mixed record in the NHL in 2019-20, despite an early change of coach.
Matthews was talking ahead of the clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, March 10.
He admitted it can be pretty difficult to deal with the amount of negativity that follows the team and the players through tough times.
"If you're not feeling too good about your game or you maybe had a couple turnovers, probably don't check your Twitter mentions after, and see all the profiles with no pictures actually shredding your life in half," Matthews said on Monday, as quoted by TSN's Kristen Shilton.
Unfortunately, with Leafs having lost 25 times already this season, Matthews and Co. have likely had a lot of ignoring to do.
Auston Matthews walks up to the podium, in use as the #leafs adjust their media policy amid coronavirus concerns, a… https://t.co/h2CiQefxpe— Chris Johnston (@Chris Johnston)1583780241.0
AM34 has received his share of animosity from both Leafs fans and neutrals this season, both regarding on-ice performance and off-ice drama.
In particular, he was hit with some strong backlash from a section of supporters back in September after his disorderly conduct charges in Arizona. Matthews ultimately settled with the female security guard in November, per the Toronto Star.
Monday's chat was also notable as an illustration of how the spread of coronavirus in Ontario and beyond had affected the usual routine.
The Canadian Press reported that Leafs staff were only available to media personnel at the podium. The usual locker-room access has been revoked indefinitely due to concerns over the virus.
And, according to Yahoo! Sports, Matthews isn't thrilled about the real possibility that the NHL might order its teams to play in front of empty stadiums in the near future.
"Fans are a huge part of the game. It wouldn’t be too much fun," Matthews opined.
So there you have it.
Matthews may not like what supporters have to say online sometimes, but that sure doesn't stop him from wanting them there to cheer on the team.