NHL Network analyst Mike Rupp has broken down the scrum that ensued as the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. Needless to say, he’s not very complimentary of Auston Matthews, who took part in initiating the scrum and then backed away from the action, letting the rest of his teammates do the dirty work in the fight that resulted.
Rupp, a former NHL tough guy, turned analyst for the NHL Network, used slow-motion video footage to describe what he called a smart play at first by Matthews not to let Travis Konecny just take a run at him during the game. When the two slash each other and Konecny challenges him to a fight, Rupp says Matthews doesn’t have to oblige, but it was essentially cowardly and unbecoming of a leader to walk away in this situation. Rupp said, “You can’t be ok with your teammates coming to your defense and you just stand there and laugh about it.” He added, “We’ve seen this movie, I’ve seen this time and time again with Auston.”
Rupp argues that playing it cool might get Matthews points on social media, but inside the locker room, it’s eventually going to wear thin. He argues that a 39-year-old warrior in Mark Giordano shouldn’t have to fight for you while you just laugh. And, that Matthews is ok with Michael Bunting having to get involved while you smile away is not a good look.
He went on to say that even if Matthews is going to grab a guy to keep things even, he barely does that. He hardly engages with someone to hold them off the pile and then looks away and down at the ice as though he doesn’t want to be involved at all. It’s almost as if Matthews has no desire to be a part of something he started. To make matters worse, Matthews pushes Konecny again when Konecny gets out of the pile and lets him teammates do the rough stuff for him twice.
Rupp argues that if Toronto doesn’t get some team toughness, including within its ranks of star players, “They ain’t going anywhere.” Other’s have weighed in on Rupp’s take, including Jackie Redmond of NHL Network who says, “I *think* he’s saying that when the boys go to bat for you-maybe care a little more that they’re taking those “punches.” When you don’t, you look like the “don’t hold me back guy” that nobody is holding back? Maybe ?”
This isn’t a good look for Matthews. No, people aren’t expecting him to fight and frankly, his teammates don’t want him to. But that’s a lot different than knowing starting stuff and laughing while the rest of your line takes punches on your behalf.
Next: Three Takeaways from Maple Leafs’ 5-2 Win Over the Flyers
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