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What they're saying about Auston Matthews

Voices from every corner of NHL in awe of Maple Leafs rookie's four-goal debut

NHL.com @NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs rookie center Auston Matthews became the first player in the modern era of the NHL to score four goals in his NHL debut Wednesday, including a hat trick by 1:25 of the second period, in the Maple Leafs' 5-4 overtime loss against the Ottawa Senators.

Matthews, the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, became the fourth player since 1943-44 to score three goals in his debut, joining Alex Smart (Montreal Canadiens, 1943), Real Cloutier (Quebec Nordiques, 1979), Fabian Brunnstrom (Dallas Stars, 2008) and Derek Stepan (New York Rangers, 2010). Joe Malone (Canadiens) and Harry Hyland (Montreal Wanderers) each scored five goals in his NHL debut in 1917, but had played previously in the National Hockey Association, the predecessor to the NHL.

In addition, Matthews is the fourth player in the modern era to score four goals in his team's season opener, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He joins Rick Blight (Vancouver Canucks, 1976), Greg Adams (Canucks, 1987) and Chris Kontos (Tampa Bay Lightning, 1992).

Matthews' performance was the talk of the League, with reaction pouring in Wednesday night into Thursday morning.

 

Wayne Gretzky, Hockey Hall of Fame member

"We always sort of go through these things, when Mario [Lemieux] retired and Mess [Mark Messier] retired, you sort of go, 'Who's going to take over?' And along came [Sidney] Crosby and [Alex] Ovechkin and then you go, 'OK, how old are they getting? And who's going to come along?' 

"Guys like Matthews, and obviously Connor [McDavid], the game's always been in good shape. We just keep finding, not only good hockey players, but really good people that come along every 10, 15 years. That's what always makes our game so special and so unique. The players are good and they're really good people and that's what makes it fun."

 

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers center

"I think in my first game I touched the puck four times, so it was a little bit of a different night for us two in our opening night. Obviously it's unbelievable for him. … It just seemed to explode, I guess. It's all good for him and it's good for the fans of Toronto and it's good for the overall game. I have nothing but good things to say about that."

Video: POST-GAME RAW | Connor McDavid

 

Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets forward, No. 2 pick of 2016 draft

"I watched a couple of periods and it was quite awesome and good for him. He's obviously a good player and nice to get a debut like that."

 

Brett Hull, Hockey Hall of Fame member

"I scored and it happened to be the game-winning goal, so that was kind of a big thrill for me as well. Just not quite four. I think I may have gotten four shifts."

 

David Poile, Nashville Predators general manager

"It was just a fantastic start for the National Hockey League. If you weren't a fan of hockey and that was the first time you tuned in to watch a hockey game, you'd have to absolutely fall in love with the game. I thought it was fantastic. I mean, I watched at least parts of all four games and they were all just terrific. And then you get that unbelievable, individual, spectacular play by Auston Matthews in his first game, and then you've got Connor McDavid two hours later out in Edmonton doing a fantastic job there getting two goals and an assist."

 

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning forward

"That was pretty amazing. Never been done in the history of the NHL. That's obviously pretty exciting for him to go out there in his first game and score four goals. That was fun to watch as a player in this League and as a fan in general. You just hope that expectations aren't that he goes out and does that all the time. But you can see that he's going to be a great player in this League for a long time. These guys coming in are so skilled and so confident and that showed last night."

 

Jonathan Drouin, Lightning forward

"It was impressive. Not many guys can draw it up like that. He's so big (6-foot-3, 216 pounds) for that age and his skill level is really high and it showed last night. He's young but you can see how big and strong he is already. He's already kind of a man in his body, and with that skill set it's pretty unbelievable."

 

Jon Cooper, Lightning coach/ Team North America assistant coach

"Pretty remarkable performance by Auston. I was joking that it was all the extra coaching he got at the World Cup [of Hockey 2016] from the [Team] North America coaches."

 

Bruce Boudreau, Minnesota Wild coach

"It's always interesting to see young stars play really well. As long as it's not against your team."

 

John Tavares, New York Islanders center

"That was impressive, no question. I thought I had a pretty good start to my career in my first game [goal and an assist], but nothing tops that. I think he proved at the World Cup his talent and his ability even at his young age. You can just see his confidence growing. Pretty impressive."

 

Jimmy Vesey, New York Rangers forward

"It was funny. Me, Pavel [Buchnevich], Hayesey [Kevin Hayes] and [Josh] Jooris were out to dinner last night and just following along and it was like Matthews gets one, Matthews gets two, Matthews gets three. We were kind of like, 'Holy cow.' But I think it's really good for the game, especially for USA Hockey, to have someone from Arizona. At such a young age, [19] years old, I think it's just really good for the game and it's going to be fun to watch this year."

 

Rick Nash, Rangers forward

"Looked great. It's awesome. It's great for the game. To be in a big market and do that, unbelievable. That's awesome. It's amazing all the coverage it's getting. For hockey in general it's a huge deal."

 

Ken Hitchcock, St. Louis Blues coach

"I thought [Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman] Kris Letang put it best, 'Welcome to the beer league.' It was like holy ... he's a man. He's not a young player. He's a young player age-wise, but he doesn't play like a young player and he doesn't look like a young player on the ice. He knocked over men to create scoring chances. He knocked over 230-pound men to create scoring chances. It's very, very impressive.

 

Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers goalie

"All the players know what type of feeling it is to play your first NHL game. It's a dream come true. When it happens like that, I bet he's just thinking, 'Is this really happening? Is this real?' I saw some highlights and obviously to start your career with four goals, that's extremely impressive. But he looked very poised. It's not a coincidence, I think. He looked prepared for this level. It's going to be fun to watch him play this year."

 

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals forward

"It's pretty amazing. Those kids are unbelievable. My friend texted me when he scored the first one and he scored the second one. Everybody expected [a lot] from him and he scored four goals. It's pretty special. He's a great kid and he's going to have a great future."

Video: Captain Alex Ovechkin talks before #CapsPens

 

T.J. Oshie, Capitals forward

"Everyone heard about the goals. I didn't see anything except for just his four goals. It's awesome. As an older guy we want to grow our game. I guess a young guy [does] as well, but to see him come in and get the hype like that is great. As far as playing against him, I hope the hype's not all real, but it looks like it is. An American-born player, which is great, and hats off to him. It's great to see what he was able to accomplish last night. It's going to be fun watching him here in the future."

 

Barry Trotz, Capitals coach

"That was pretty incredible. I was going to text [Maple Leafs coach] Mike [Babcock]. He was wondering how he would do. As coaches we all know he's a good talent. What he did was incredible. What a start for one of the new faces in the League. If you look at the last couple of years with Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, our game is in pretty good shape. The torch is going to get handed to those guys in the near future."

 

Jeff Blashill, Detroit Red Wings coach

"For him to score four goals in his first game, what a moment for him. What a moment for his parents. We saw him last week. I saw him for the first time in live action that way and I was extremely impressed. He is extremely strong on the puck. That's the biggest thing I noticed. His hockey strength is excellent. He can be extended and still win puck battles. He's got an extremely bright future ahead of him."

 

Nick Bonino, Pittsburgh Penguins forward

"The young guys are so good right now. You saw Matthews last night. That was pretty incredible to score four goals in a debut. McDavid gets off to three points. There's a lot of young talent in this League. It's pretty fun. We all definitely talked about Matthews for sure. I ended up scoring in my second game and then not again until like my 35th. So it took a while to get four goals. I'm pretty happy for him. That was nice."

Video: Bonino talks to the media before the home opener

 

Trevor Daley, Penguins defenseman

"It was awesome. My phone was blowing up … all my buddies were texting me last night asking me if I'm watching this. It's special. Any time a kid plays his first game and scores four goals it's pretty cool. He set himself up for what's he going to do in the next one. At least three [goals], right? It's exciting. It's exciting for Toronto. I like to see them do well. So to have a kid come in and do what he's doing there is pretty cool."

Video: Daley talks to the media before the home opener

 

Ryan O'Reilly, Buffalo Sabres forward

"I was looking at it last night [and] I looked at the score and I just see, Matthews one [goal], scroll down, it's like Matthews two, Matthews three, Matthews four. I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, that's an epic night.' It's amazing for him and the only thing is, I hope he doesn't do that against us. But definitely it's good for him. He's a good player. Getting to see him in World Championships and World Cup, he's an elite player and definitely someone I'll have to keep an eye on."

 

Dan Bylsma, Sabres coach

"Sometimes you get goals bouncing off your stick or going off your head or whatnot, and yeah, you got a hat trick or you got an extra goal. … Those were pretty good. They limited him to four goals yesterday. He could have had a couple more. … They had a ton of chances with that line. It was a pretty impressive performance from Auston and his line in that game. And it wasn't by chance. They were good opportunities. It was a pretty fun game to watch."

 

Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman

"I watched a little bit of it. I think I saw two of them. I didn't see the other two but obviously they're all over social media so I did see that. He's a tremendous hockey player, great kid. He did a lot of tremendous things for us [Team North America] at the [World Cup] tournament. A lot of people had high expectations for him, and clearly he's up to the challenge."

 

Alain Vigneault, Rangers coach

"What an outstanding start to the season yesterday. That young man getting out there and scoring four, phenomenal game for him. But that was yesterday. Today is today."

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