Can I call you Auston? It feels weird calling you Mr. Matthews. 18 and all. So you’re gonna be a Leaf. I know that might be a bit scary, the media, the fame, the scrutiny. But today I’m making a promise to you. It will all be worth it.
In Toronto we have heroes that never won the cup, never won many awards, never did much but they played their hearts out and at the end of the day, that’s what you gotta do to make it in Toronto.
Wendel Clark was our last 1st overall pick. Never won us a cup, never got a scoring title but growing up, every kid dreamed of being Wendel. Sadly, even David Clarkson…but let’s not talk about him.
We had Dougie, a feisty guy who again didn’t achieve much as a Leaf but lives in the heart of every Leaf fan because of how he played.
If there is anything to learn from these two, love the game, love the fan, do your best. We’ll take care of the rest.
You see a player like you doesn’t really happen to a team like us. Just now, as I write this, I can tell you that thousands of Leafs fans are waiting to hear there’s been a trade and that the players we got in return all suffer freak injuries and you go on to be a Hall of Famer. We missed out on Scott Niedermayer, Tyler Seguin and were 1 ping pong ball away from McDavid, so we pretty much never really drafted a true bonafide stud.
Leaf fans are just used to things not going our way and just having to accept that. We are the fan base who had a front page cover of a national magazine say ‘Why the Leafs Stink.’ We’ve been told Burke is the saviour only to watch him deal away our draft picks. We are just too used to getting the shaft. So again I say, getting a player like you doesn’t happen to us. That’s why the day of the lottery if you grabbed any Leafs fan, they would tell you, we are picking 4th. There is no way we get the top spot. There is no way we get a chance of grabbing Auston Matthews. And crazy enough, here we are.
Now, you’re gonna meet this guy Steve Simmons. He will be following you. Whatever you do, don’t eat in front of him. He will write a lot of stuff about you. Don’t worry, we ignore what he says. He might comment on your commitment, or say you’re not driven, he will do whatever he can to get his readership up. He said no team can win with Phil Kessel. Well, last time I saw Kessel he was lifting the Stanley Cup. It’s sad that there are vultures here but at least you are noticed. A lot of cities in the NHL, no one cares about the players or even the teams. So don’t take it for granted.
You’re gonna hear the radio stations and TSN drill you when you play bad but again don’t worry. We believe in you. Just ask Stroman from the Jays. He’s getting lit up right now but the whole city has his back and is supporting him. Just ask Kyle Lowry, he was god awful most of the playoffs; but game after game, Toronto fans kept telling him, ‘it’s okay and you’ll pull through the slump.’
And that right there is what’s amazing about playing for the Leafs and the city of Toronto. Every city you play in, there we are in the stands. We will make some cities feel like home games. You will see your jersey so much, you’ll probably get sick of your last name. From now on, the only way to spell Auston in Toronto will be with an ‘o’ and not the more common ‘i’. There will be cats and dogs named after you, there will be twitter handles devoted to you, hashtags, essentially we are just so happy that in a mere handful of days someone will announce ‘And with the first overall pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs proudly select…’ That sentence…well we don’t really hear it all that much. So your name is the ultimate cherry on top.
Honestly, we’re a fan base who miss having players to look up to. And right now, you, Mitch and Willy are the closest we have had to Dougie and Wendel.
So no matter what you read, hear and think the fans feel about you. It isn’t true. Because as long as you play with heart. As long as you give it your all day in and day out. We will love you. We will cheer you and we will all no longer have to hold on to the memories of ’93. New ones to be made, and it will be you who will make them.
We’re excited to have you,
Rami (Leaf Nation Member since ’87)
PS. No matter what always salute the fans. I can’t stress this enough.