Hockey is a pretty humourless sport. You ever watch an interview with a hockey player? It’s all “full credit to my linemates” this and “gotta take it one shift at a time” that. Dull cliche after dull cliche. And yet, Toronto Maple Leafs wunderkind Auston Matthews stands out as being exceptionally monotone. The kid takes joyless stoicism to the next level. Seeing him crack a smile is less likely than experiencing a cold day in Dallol. He makes OG Anunoby look like DJ Khaled.
Or so we thought! In a new video series called “Leaf to Leaf,” wherein players sit down face-to-face and interview one another, Matthews and Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen decide to have a staring contest. And we never thought we’d say this, but Matthews actually looks like he’s having fun! Honest, good fun! He even breaks down in tears at one point — happy tears! — from trying to maintain his stare while stifling laughter. It’s like a facial bowel evacuation of repressed emotion.
The whole thing is a true joy to behold. It’s akin to when the T-800 transcended his cyborg nature, learned the value of human life, and gave Sarah and John Connor a touching thumbs up. Or when benumbed ex-boxer Rocky Lockridge had an emotional breakdown on Intervention after his son professed his love for him.
Auston Matthews, everyone. He’s a human winter squash: hard on the outside, soft and mushy on the inside.