Friday’s Toronto Maple Leafs press conference where both Auston Matthews and general manager (GM) Brad Treliving addressed the media generated several takeaways. As I’ve reflected since listening to the conference, I’ve grown particularly interested in where Matthews landed when the conference was over.

I thought Matthews emerged from the conference as an intelligent person who took agency in seeing that the contract negotiations got done. In doing so, he balanced both his self-interest and his interest in supporting his team.

In the remainder of this post, I’ll discuss what I believe are five things I think fans learned from both the press conference and the negotiations that the conference revealed.

Related: Media Conference Key Takeaway: Matthews Is Maple Leafs Leader

A Clearer Picture of Matthews’ Motivations Emerged

As I unpack Friday’s press conference, I’ll focus on trying to gain a clearer picture of what we’ve learned about Matthews. In this, several things were revealed. Specifically, fans gained a clearer picture of the star player’s role within the negotiation process as well as the franchise emerged. [For a longer insight about this topic, see my article in The Hockey Writers which you can link to above.]

Auston Matthews RC

Here are five key insights that I believe came to light during the conference.

Insight One: Matthews’ Contributions to the Process Were Invaluable

Matthews’ value to the franchise is undeniable. He’s already recognized as one of the top players in the hockey world. However, he exemplifies a rare balance. In these negotiations, he wasn’t just about signing a big contract; he also prioritized the team’s well-being. It was an interesting balance of both.

While Matthews certainly did sign a substantial contract, he didn’t do so at the expense of the team. He reinforced his importance to the team by moving this process forward. His actions showcased his commitment to the franchise beyond financial gain.

Insight Two: Matthews Was a Leader in the Negotiations

In the negotiations, Matthews assumed a central role. In that role, he wielded considerable power. His talent and league status meant that he entered the process with significant leverage. However, what’s fascinating is that he didn’t exploit this power to its fullest extent.

Matthews could have demanded an even more lucrative contract, but he chose not to. This shows his consideration for the team. I believe this action suggests that he might wield even more influence in the seasons to come. I believe he increased his team leadership in this process. Will there be more formal leadership emerging from these negotiations?

Insight Three: Matthews Was the Driver of the Process

The negotiations weren’t just a formality. And, unlike what seems to be the process with William Nylander, the team isn’t chasing the player around trying to get him to sign. These negotiations were driven by Matthews himself.

He realized the team needed to put this process in the rearview mirror, so he made it happen. He desired the contract’s conclusion, and it was concluded. The process both highlighted his agency as a player and his determination to prevent the negotiations from becoming a distraction for the team.

Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs

What no one said is that Matthews’ contract could become the measuring stick for both Nylander’s and Mitch Marner’s contracts that will be forthcoming. With the contract settled, the team can now shift its focus to the ultimate goal: winning the Stanley Cup.

Related: 4 Predictions for William Nylander’s 2023-24 Season

Insight Four: Matthews Cemented a Leadership Role Within the Team

Matthews’ decision to finalize the contract speaks volumes about his leadership qualities. It shows his commitment to the team’s success and his willingness to compromise for the team’s good. This action cements his status as a team leader. It will be interesting to see how this lays out over the next while.

Insight Five: Matthews Team Focus Was Undeniable

Any lingering doubts about where Matthews’ loyalties lie should have been dispelled after this process. I personally love that his two primary goals were crystal clear: first, he wanted to secure his future; and, second, he wanted to wholeheartedly support the team. His actions emphasized the importance of team cohesion and the need to prioritize on-ice success over off-ice business.

The Bottom Line

In summary, by the end of the media conference, Matthews had solidified his place as a central figure in the franchise. His actions show his worth as both a player and a team leader. They also both reveal his intelligence and his willingness to take an active role in the contract negotiation process.

Perhaps more important for Maple Leafs’ fans is that It became evident that Matthews deeply valued the team and its success. He became (and perhaps always was) known as an indispensable asset to the franchise.

In short, Matthews is a team player whose leadership pushed these negotiations to their outcome.

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Rielly, Tavares, Mete & Matthews

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