TORONTO — Auston Matthews will have the splint removed from his surgically repaired left wrist later this month and said he is optimistic he’ll be ready for the Toronto Maple Leafs season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 13.
Matthews was expected to be out a minimum of six weeks after he underwent surgery Aug. 13.
“It’s coming along well,” Matthews said during the NHL Player Media Tour on Monday. “Right now it’s a couple more weeks until I can kind of get out of the splint and start kind of really rehabbing and build my strength back.
“But I mean, as far as timeline goes, I’m going to get back on the ice this week. I’m really hopeful to be able to be ready for Game 1. That’s my goal right now. Just take it day by day and see how I’m feeling.”
Matthews said he waited after the season to see if the injury would subside rather than have the surgery performed right away. But when it began flaring up again during offseason workouts, he consulted with the Maple Leafs medical and training staff, at which time the decision was made to have the surgery.
“It’s nothing serious, and I’m glad to have it done,” Matthews said.
Despite playing most of last season with the wrist injury, which caused him to miss two games Feb. 27 and March 1, Matthews scored 66 points in 52 games, including leading the NHL with 41 goals to win the Rocket Richard Trophy. He was then criticized for only scoring one goal in the Stanley Cup First Round, when Toronto was eliminated in seven games by Montreal, but refused to blame his lack of production on the injury.
“Some nights were harder than others,” he said. “Especially with how condensed the season was. But it would be hard to find anybody that wasn’t playing through bumps and bruises.
“I did everything I could to feel as good as possible and continue to play and keep going. There’s better days ahead, that’s for sure.”
Matthews said it took a couple of weeks to put “the sting and the pain” of the losing in the first round of the playoffs for the fifth straight season behind him. However, he remains steadfast in his belief that the Maple Leafs have the pieces in place to make a strong run at the Stanley Cup despite the fact that they have not won a postseason series since 2004.
“Absolutely,” Matthews said. “I think every single one of us believes. It doesn’t matter what other people’s opinions are of our team or what’s happened in the past. That doesn’t really affect us. It’s about what’s in our locker room and how we feel about one another, even if it’s just the 30 guys or 50 people in the organization. That’s fine. That goes a long way.”