Before the puck dropped in Toronto on Saturday, the Maple Leafs paid tribute to historic players from their past.
When the celebration ended, those tasked with bringing a bright future to the franchise, celebrating its 100th season, delivered.
All the hype the last few days has been about Auston Matthews. He scored four goals in his NHL debut on Wednesday — a historic feat.
Against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, as Matthews was making his much anticipated home debut in Toronto, it was clear the future doesn’t just revolve around No. 34, though that’s not to undermine how significant he will be to the potential success of this franchise going forward.
The Leafs had a hot start, ripping three goals past Bruins back-up goalie Anton Khudobin before the game was even 15 minutes old. They cruised to a 4-1 victory, making amends for that overtime loss to Ottawa to begin the season.
Connor Brown, a Leafs sixth-round pick from 2012 and a 22-year-old prospect that has developed with the Marlies in the AHL, also scored in the win.
It’s two games for the Leafs in the Auston Matthews Era. They have three of a possible four points so far. Growing pains are still to be expected with this young group moving forward.
But after years of gloom for Leafs fans, there may be reason to be optimistic about the future.