The Leafs lost, but he was still pretty amazing.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the worst team in the NHL last year, and fans were mostly okay with the result.
The Leafs have been mostly bad or mediocre-but-not-good-enough for a decade now, and getting worse and stockpiling young talent was widely accepted as the best way to eventually improve. By virtue of finishing with the worst record and having the best odds to win the top pick in hockey’s 2016 entry draft, the Leafs made a significant step in that direction when they added highly touted teenager Auston Matthews to their team.
With him, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner, long-suffering Leafs fans finally have something they haven’t in a while: hope.
In his debut NHL game last night, Matthews didn’t disappoint. He became the first player in NHL history to score four goals in his first game—he had a hat trick 21 minutes into the game. This being the Leafs, they still lost the game to the Ottawa Senators in overtime, 5–4, but it felt alright. For the first time in what feels like forever, there’s something to believe in, even if there will be more losses along the way.
Here’s how fans and commentators reacted as Matthews made his stunning debut.
And there it is, Auston Matthews with his first NHL goal. 1-0. Welcome to the NHL.
— David Alter (@dalter) October 12, 2016
Second goal of his first NHL period.
Goal of the year finalist, probably.
Erik Karlsson is one of these defencemen.
My god. pic.twitter.com/rzSvvrJh3D
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) October 12, 2016
Auston Matthews is doing a better job of embarrassing Senators than Donald Trump
— James Hell Brooks (@BobbyBigWheel) October 13, 2016
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 13, 2016
— Michael Caravella (@M_Caravella28) October 13, 2016