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Matthews says relationship with Maple Leafs is fine despite legal issues

Center regrets not telling team before disorderly conduct charge became public

by Dave McCarthy / Independent Correspondent

TORONTO -- Auston Matthews said his relationship with the Toronto Maple Leafs is fine despite pending legal issues.

"We're in good shape," Matthews said Friday after practice. "I made a mistake and I'm taking ownership of it. Everybody makes mistakes, and the conversations that we've had, we're just trying to work through it, but I'd say our relationship is just fine."

Matthews, who turned 22 on Sept. 17, is facing a disorderly conduct charge in relation to an incident in Scottsdale, Arizona, on May 26. Matthews, who grew up in Arizona and lives there during the offseason, was not arrested. He did not immediately inform the Maple Leafs what happened.

"There's lots of things that happen to you in your life that aren't particularly good, it happens to all of us. It's what you do about it after, it's how you respond," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "The problem for anybody in the spotlight is your life happens in the spotlight. You'd like it not to at times, but other times you like it to be, so you can't have both. That's the way it is."


[RELATED: Matthews regrets that legal issues are 'distraction' for Maple Leafs]


Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said he first became aware of the charges when they surfaced Tuesday on Twitter. Matthews called the decision not to inform the Maple Leafs an "error in judgement on my part."

According to court documents filed through Arizona's judicial branch website, Matthews is charged with one count of disorderly conduct and disruptive behavior or fighting. He was issued a summons July 23 and had a pretrial conference scheduled for Wednesday in Scottsdale but was not required to appear in court.

The center, who scored in a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, said his focus is on putting the issue out of his mind in order to perform at his best on the ice. It is expected Matthews will play Saturday in the Maple Leafs' final preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings at Scotiabank Arena (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.TV).

"It hasn't been easy, but I think it's something I'm learning from and growing from obviously, so I think you just try to take it day by day," Matthews said. "Just mentally block it out. I still have a job to do so I have to come to the rink every day and do that."

Video: BUF@TOR: Matthews finishes Nylander's setup down low

Matthews has received strong support from his teammates, including forward John Tavares and defenseman Morgan Rielly.

"Obviously it's not something he wanted to be involved in or have it be a situation that happened," Tavares said. "I think overall he's a great person and a great teammate and obviously wants to move forward and continue to become better and mature and be the great player that he is. We all have is back and we're all there for him whatever he needs. It's an unfortunate set of circumstances but he wants to move forward, be himself and be the best Maple Leaf he can be."

Rielly said, "He's been great, Auston is a pro. He's a good person from a good family. He's been dealing with it and I know all his teammates just want to support him."

Matthews said the support from his teammates has been helpful.

"It means a lot. Those are the guys who you spend a lot of time with and they truly know you deep down, so that kind of stuff really means a lot," Matthews said.

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