Toronto Maple Leafs: Was it right to reveal Auston Matthews has virus?

Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Auston Matthews is reportedly one of 11 players who has tested positive for COVID-19, but was it right to reveal the name of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ star centre?

As per Sportsnet on Friday, the NHL confirmed that 11 players have tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 of the return-to-play plan began. It comes as no surprise that the Toronto Maple Leafs are somehow involved in this latest news.

The NHL advised that more than 200 players have been tested since allowing teams to open facilities for small group skates earlier this month. Unfortunately for the Leafs, Auston Matthews is apparently among the 11 players who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The news that Matthews tested positive, came courtesy of a report from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. Simmons wrote that the centre has gone into quarantine at his home in Arizona.

Simmons is an extremely polarising figure within the Toronto sports media, with an innate ability to wind up people. (Just ask Brian Burke.) As such he has received a lot of criticism, with people commenting that he should never have gone public with this information.

Regardless of your opinion in this matter, what is most important is that Matthews recovers. Of course, this then leads to the question of when he would likely be in a position to join the rest of his teammates?

In this respect, Simmons notes that the 22-year-old is hoping to be healthy enough and eligible to travel to Toronto and participate in the start of Leafs camp on July 10. If he isn’t able to join the team until after this date then so be it; again, what’s most important is that he recovers from the virus.

Leafs fans often fear the worst when it comes to their team, so understandably thoughts also turned to Frederik Andersen, who was staying with Matthews during the lockdown. However, Simmons advised his sources indicated the goaltender had not tested positive for COVID-19.

Understandably though, Anderson is no longer leaving with Matthews and has now moved out of Arizona. This was a wise move, with Arizona proving to be one of the states struggling to contain the coronavirus.

As per the Arizona Department of Health Services, the state recorded a new single-day high of 3,246 cases on Friday. In addition, several unnamed Arizona Coyotes players who were training with Matthews have also recently tested positive.

While something like this was bound to happen, you have to wonder what will be done if and when more NHL personnel test positive? The Tampa Bay Lightning closed their training facilities on Friday, after several employees — including three players — test posted for COVID-19.

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Going back to March, unnamed players from the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche have also tested positive. This accumulation of information has led for some calls to scrap the return of the 2019-20 NHL season altogether.

While we can understand this sentiment, from our perspective it’s still too soon to make such a call. However, it will be interesting to see how further developments impact the NHL’s return-to-play plan.

Returning to Matthews specifically, it is interesting that of all the NHL players who have reportedly test positive, only his name has been released. Does this mean Simmons has better sources than other media members, or just that he is the only one prepared to publicly name a player?

If it is the latter, you then have to consider the moral aspect of such a move, e.g. is this something the general public really needs to know, how does Matthews feel about being named and so on? Let the debate begin….

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What is your take on Simmons reporting that Matthews tested posted for COVID-19? Should his name have been revealed or not, and why? Further, how do you see this news impacting the Toronto Maple Leafs? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.