Leafs' star Auston Matthews shares his views on political 'nonsense'
Auston Matthews admittedly is not a very political 20-year-old. However, as a young, star American-born player, it was only a matter of time before the Toronto media asked for his opinions on how the divisiveness caused by the Trump Presidency has crossed over into the world of sports.
"There's some stuff going on now that's hard to miss," Matthews offered to a gaggle of reporters Monday. "Obviously the sports world has a pretty big impact on the world itself, so obviously it's a lot of stuff going on, and if we can figure all that stuff out, and kind of come together as a country and stop this whole nonsense that's going on."
Asked specifically about NFL and MLB players who have recently chosen to kneel during the United States National Anthem or not observe it in other ways, Matthews provided a bit more of a personal take.
"To me, I don't know if kneeling, sitting, stretching is something I'd look into doing because, for me, it's like a dishonor to the men and women who fight for that flag, fight for the US, so I don't think I'd be one of the people that take part in that," Matthews explained.
However, the reigning Calder Trophy winner did not disparage any athlete who decided to take action in these tumultuous times in the States.
"Obviously people have took this time to send a message, or make a statement, and that's their opinion," said Matthews. "They have the right to do that. Good for them."
Many NHL players are beginning to speak up and speak out about President Trump, his comments and policies and the divisiveness which currently is rampant in the United States. Blake Wheeler of the Jets has been particularly outspoken in his feelings about Trump, while David Backes of the Bruins made it a point to stress that he will proudly stand and hold his hand over his heart during the National Anthem.
Matthews's teammate Nazem Kadri does not want politics to divide teammates.
"For us hockey players I think (politics) is a slippery slope," Kadri told reporters. "To speak publicly on it is definitely a little bit dangerous especially if, you know, you don't have everybody feeling the same way."
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Sunday they accepted Trump's invitation to visit the White House and celebrate the 2017 Stanley Cup championship. On Monday, team captain Sidney Crosby said it was a "great honor" to go to the White House again, drawing some criticism for not taking a stand against the sitting President.
Matthews, though, did not stray far from Crosby's stance.
"Honestly, everybody has their own opinion on stuff, and everyone has the right to do what they want.," said Matthews. "The Penguins made a statement that they're going the other day. It's been a tradition in the past and a pretty big honor. It's something that if you're in the position it's the position you'd like to be in to make that decision. I think we'd probably go."