Auston Matthews had just been asked what he intended to do on a rare full day off. A sardonic grin lifted the corner of his mouth.
“I think that’s none of your business.” Followed with a heh-heh-heh.
Just giving the gears, man, jocosely. Though not entirely.
It was the second time in a week that Matthews had responded to a question instinctively, with refreshing candour. On the previous occasion, he had zinged back to a query about his five-on-five scoring statistics, which had been a fixation of the commentariat. “I couldn’t care less what you guys say, to be honest with you,” tagging on a “no disrespect.”
In fact, the mild admonishments are welcome indicators that Matthews — who continues to put the awe in Aweston, with his fourth career hat trick in Wednesday’s 8-3 win over Colorado — is beginning to shuck the media grooming husk that has enveloped him since entering the NHL six years ago with a four-goal hello-splash in his debut.
There’s no disputing the 24-year-old’s splendid talents. But it’s been a mite difficult gauging his personality, the man within the superstar, because he’s nearly always so self-contained when facing a bank of microphones and TV cameras. The gentle distancing has made it harder to engage with Matthews, not just by reporters but, by extension, with fans.
“With all of these guys, we get them when they’re so young,” Leafs president Brendan Shanahan points…