Maple Leafs Keeping Auston Matthews in Good Hands
Mike Babcock can coach and cajole Auston Matthews all he wants, but knows he only has the young star’s attention part of a 24-hour day.
So, for those hours when the team is off on its own, such as the past week’s road trip, the club wants to make sure Matthews is getting proper direction. With eight points in five games to lead all NHL rookies, there’s not a lot Matthews needs to be taught about offence, but there are many nuances that go into the DNA of a well-rounded pro, one who could indeed be the face of the franchise the club has sought since Mats Sundin moved on.
“Absolutely, we’ve been very conscious of the people we keep around him,” Babcock said. “He’ll be surrounded by lots of people in his lifetime. He has to make good decisions. There are lots of people who will want to get to know him. But you have to decide who you are going to let into your immediate circle.
“Those people end up having an influence on you, who end up tightening you when you step out of line. It’s real important he makes good choices. But he’s a smart guy.”