Center Shawn Matthias is excited to play for his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
"Any new team you come to, you want to do your best," Matthias told the Toronto Sun on Friday. "But for me to come here and play in front of friends and family ... I don't want to play awful because there will be lots of people critiquing my game. In the other markets, you wouldn't have had all these cameras here today, (reporters) asking me questions. But it's special to be home. I don't take it for granted. I have to be responsible and accountable."
Matthias, who had an NHL career-high 18 goals and 27 points for the Vancouver Canucks last season, met with coach Mike Babcock and captain Dion Phaneuf to discuss the Maple Leafs' direction before signing a one-year contract reportedly worth $2.3 million July 6.
The 27-year-old said the opportunity to play for Babcock, who was coach of the Detroit Red Wings when they selected him in the second round (No. 47) of the 2006 NHL Draft, played a big role in his decision.
"This is where I wanted to go, and he's a big part of that," said Matthias, who was traded to the Florida Panthers in February 2007 before playing a game in the Red Wings system. "We had a good meeting. I got home and talked to my dad, and everything (with the Maple Leafs) seemed to be going in the right direction. I don't see why anyone would not want to play here. It's going to be amazing."
Matthias has 69 goals, 62 assists and 137 penalty minutes in 408 games with the Panthers and Canucks. He scored 17 of his 18 goals last season at even strength.