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Auston Matthews adding to celebration in Toronto

Rookie's four-goal game precedes ceremonies surrounding new Legends Row statues, list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

TORONTO -- The city was abuzz Thursday with talk of Auston Matthews, the rookie sensation of the Toronto Maple Leafs who scored four goals in his first game Wednesday.

Matthews, the No. 1 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft, was the first player in the modern era (since 1943-44) with four goals in his first NHL game.

The staff at Real Sports Apparel, the Maple Leafs and NBA Toronto Raptors specialty store in Air Canada Centre, were busy Thursday afternoon pressing Matthews' name and No. 34 on the back and sleeves of home and road jerseys. They expect business to pick up substantially in the next 48 hours as the Maple Leafs prepare for their home opener against the Boston Bruins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, NESN, NHL.TV).

Officials from the store or the Maple Leafs marketing department were reluctant to speak about the Matthews phenomenon at the exclusion of the rest of a young, quick, exciting team that shows the franchise moving in the right direction after too many wrong turns in recent seasons.

Video: Auston Matthews makes history in NHL debut

But it's clear that Matthews will be their poster boy, at least in the short term, after having scored on his first three shots as an NHL player and scoring a fourth goal in what ended as a 5-4 overtime loss to the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa.

Matthews became the first Maple Leafs player to score four goals in a game since Mats Sundin on April 11, 2006, against the Florida Panthers. He's the first to score four times in a road game since Frank Mahovlich did it against the Chicago Blackhawks on Dec. 11, 1960.

The offensive show Matthews put on Wednesday represents the Maple Leafs' future. As they celebrate their centennial, the Maple Leafs will unveil three more statues on Legends Row, outside Air Canada Centre in Maple Leaf Square, on Thursday.

Toronto icon Dave Keon will be on hand for the unveiling, as will family members representing the late Turk Broda and Tim Horton.

On Friday, the Maple Leafs will reveal a list of their top 100 players of all time, based on the vote of a selection committee and fans.

And then Matthews, Mitchell Marner and the rest of the team will celebrate the home opener Saturday, to be preceded by a gala ceremony recognizing a century of Maple Leafs hockey.

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