The Toronto Maple Leafs will be without their top star in the lineup when they kick off the regular season on Wednesday.
On Monday the Maple Leafs confirmed that star forward Auston Matthews would not play any of the regular season games that the Maple Leafs have on their schedule this week as a result of his wrist injury. This means that Matthews will now miss a minimum of 3 games to start the regular season, with the possibility of him missing more after that also a reality.
The news will no doubt provoke a mixed reaction from a Maple Leafs fan base that was already questioning the decision making surrounding Matthews' offseason surgery. Rather than undergo the procedure immediately following the conclusion of the previous season for the Leafs, Matthews and the team opted for a noninvasive approach to his recovery from the injury before going under the knife. Unfortunately that treatment option did not produce the results they had hoped for, resulting in the surgery.
The problem of course is that this caused a delay in when Matthews was to undergo the surgical procedure, a delay that we now know will cost him games in the regular season.
The top concern will continue to be the health of the Maple Leafs superstar, as it should be, but now one has to wonder how much of a delay this will cause to Matthews' season debut. Even when he does debut there will no doubt be a steep learning curve for Matthews as he looks to catch up to his teammates that have had an entire training camp, a number of preseason games to get into game shape, not to mention the regular season games that he will now miss as well.
It is a real shame because Matthews is coming off a spectacular season that saw him record an incredible 41 goals and 25 assists for 66 points over a shortened 52 game campaign. That was however in the NHL's short lived North Division, and I know many fans and pundits alike have been looking forward to seeing Matthews perform against a greater variety of opposition this season.
Photo Credit: Claus Andersen/Getty