Auston Matthews is not just the best player on Justin Bieber’s favourite NHL team, he's also grown to become close friends with the pop superstar.
In a beautifully done profile by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, Matthews unveiled the origins of their friendship, as well as some incredible anecdotes of interaction between two men at the top of their respective fields — who are also Just Dudes, it appears.
Apparently, Bieber is just like any other sports fan, at least.
"When we first started talking and becoming friends and stuff, [Bieber] texted me like, 'We need a D-man. We need a guy like Brian McCabe,'" Matthews told ESPN. "I just laughed so hard because it's like, you're no different than the guy on the street that's coming up to me being like, 'Hey, nice to meet you. Can I get a picture? Man, we need a guy ... We need this, we need that.'"
At the age of 27, Bieber was not even a pre-teen during the time that McCabe patrolled the ice as a physical, hard-shooting defenseman for Toronto; the perfect age to idolize a player and think the best of them. And considering the lack of talent on the Leafs’ blue line at that time that the two stars connected, it only makes sense for the singer from Stratford to turn it into a Southern Ontario bar chat.
As for what Bieber is like on the ice? Matthews, along with teammates Mitch Marner and Tyson Barrie, were invited to a game of shinny the Leafs megafan organized in a Toronto suburb with a handful of friends on Boxing Day of 2019. Matthews described Bieber as “the second-best player I’ve seen since Vladimir Putin.” No doubt making a subtle jab at the Russian president playing pick-up games in which he is literally untouchable.
The simple connection between a popstar and one of the NHL’s best players has jolted the league’s interest into a whole new demographic and certainly the revitalization of the ESPN broadcast this season might prove to be only beneficial for the sport’s future.
Matthews and the Maple Leafs begin their season on Wednesday against the archrival Montreal Canadiens.
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