Auston Matthews is Breaking the NHL’s Personality Barrier

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It is no surprise Auston Matthews rose to stardom on the ice but breaking the persisting predictable tropes associated with NHL players, making him a North American athletic superstar may be his most remarkable feat. Matthews’ NHL resume is already Hall of Fame worthy. Two Maurice Richard Trophies, a Ted Lindsay, Calder Memorial, and the Hart Memorial Trophy. It’s no wonder that he and Mitch Marner have become the Maple Leafs golden boys. But the Auston Matthews personality is truly a brand in and of itself.

The twenty-five-year-old’s knack for scoring goals does not overshadow his charisma off the ice. Since his dynamic, forty-goal rookie season, Matthews’ has been surrounded by large media companies grasping at straws for a chance to interview the young phenom. 

The NHL’s lack of personality is commonly joked about among fans. The comically repetitive interview answers, traditional suit-and-tie pre-game attire, and the lack of social media presence has hurt the NHL’s attempts at growing the game. Ironically, the NHL’s attempt to give an insight into who players are in their ‘Puck Personality’ segment is the epitome of being out of touch. These interviews consist of NHL Players answering cookie-cutter questions, with responses lacking enthusiasm. 

Most notably, his personality has flourished on GQ, where the Maple Leafs star did multiple interviews with the magazine. Beginning in 2018, GQ published a story on the player taking a deep dive into his fashion influences and life in the NHL. A couple of years later, multiple interviews on Youtube pop-up, covering topics different from the standard ‘Puck Personas’ video-style fans may see on the NHL Youtube page. This has all worked to show off the Auston Matthews personality that fans have come to identify the player with.

Matthews understands how the NHL is typically void of booming personalities, noting the reserved and traditional atmosphere compared to other sports. Depending on your opinion, you may enjoy the shut-up-and-work nature of the sport; however, in large part thanks to basketball or football players’ personalities, their leagues are surging.

Brand deals have followed Matthews since his inaugural season. ESPN, the NHL’s latest television rights holder, took it upon themselves to create a cover story for Matthews. Additionally, GMC, Lids, his own NFT, Edge Labs, Bet 99, and his signature skate with Mars Blade highlight the notoriety his affiliated companies gain.

The EA Sports NHL franchise giving the cover athlete honour to Matthews in 2020 and 2022 shows that large companies recognize his presence. A brief scroll through his Instagram will display the Auston Matthews personality, despite the amount of paid promotions. 

Matthews’ style and personality have allowed him to connect with pop stars such as The Kid Laroi and become close friends with Toronto native Justin Bieber. Matthews and Bieber have become tight due to more than hockey. Both share an interest in clothing, as Bieber owns a designer street-wear brand, ‘Drew House,’ which Matthews’ frequents in social media posts. Finding the pair at high-status events should not come as a surprise, leading some to wonder who is in who’s posse. 

Getting a friend with the star power of Justin Bieber may not be easy for NHL players; however, Matthews’ connections with cultural powerhouses like Bieber show hockey has the potential to enter the mainstream pop culture. 

All his off-ice flair still translates to on-ice performance as well. The Maple Leafs routinely place highly in the NHL Power Rankings. Matthews contributes to this placement on a weekly basis, with his constant goal-scoring prowess, and his play-creating abilities, the American player is truly stellar both on and off the ice.

Young Americans are following in Auston Matthews’ personality footsteps. Trevor Zegras and Jack Hughes do not hold back in answers to reporters, and their on-ice flair makes the two some of the most exciting players to watch despite their young ages. P.K. Subban and Alexander Ovechkin, two of the most notable positive personalities in recent years, helped pave the way for Matthews’ to excel off the ice. The NHL should be more popular than the stereotypical Canadian pastime, with Matthews, a top-five player in the NHL, taking the reigns of media stardom; perhaps the NHL will one day compete with the likes of the NBA and NFL across North America. 

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Studying Sports Media at Toronto Metropolitan University, Alex Wauthy is an up-and-coming sports writer and commentator. On his Twitter, you can find the websites he writes for, his radio show and podcast, and upcoming TMU Bold broadcasts he is commentating on, along with jokes and analysis.