What Happened to Auston Matthews? The Toronto Maple Leafs Superstar Was Pulled by the Team Doctor

"Ultimately, he's been giving us everything that he has here. Ultimately, the doctor pulled him," said head coach Sheldon Keefe.

Brandon Charles - Author
By

Apr. 29 2024, Published 2:11 p.m. ET

Auston Matthews in Game 4 on April 27, 2024
Source: Getty Images

The Torotanto Maple Leafs are on the brink of elimination. Down 3 to 1 against the Boston Bruins in a first-round Stanley Cup playoffs series, it’s not looking good for Toronto — and former MVP Auston Matthews being forced to sit isn’t helping.

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Though Auston started Game 4 for the Leafs, he was not allowed back on the ice after the second period. It’s difficult to win when your best player can’t play.

Auston Matthews in Game 3 on Apr. 24, 2024
Source: Getty Images

Auston Matthews in Game 3 on April 24, 2024

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What happened to Auston Matthews? He was pulled by the team doctor due to an unspecified illness.

Speaking with reporters after Game 4, Maple Leafs’ Head Coach Sheldon Keefe explained the decision-making process for not allowing the team’s best player to play. “It's all just related to the illness he's been dealing with. Ultimately, he's been giving us everything that he has here. Ultimately, the doctor pulled him."

The aforementioned illness hasn’t been clarified by Auston or the Maple Leafs. According to The Hockey News' April 28, 2024 report about Auston’s health, "There's been multiple reports that have suggested that Matthews is getting over food poisoning. It certainly explains why Matthews may not have been himself."

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Coach Keefe addressed the illness in another question about the team superstar. "We thought the last couple of days would help us, but, for whatever reason, it's not one of those run-of-the-mill type of illnesses that sort of comes and goes. This one has lingered, and the effects have lingered and gotten worse when he's got on the ice and is asserting himself."

Auston Matthews in Game 3 on Apr. 24, 2024
Source: Getty Images

Auston Matthews in Game 3 on April 24, 2024

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A Game 5 return for Auston isn’t looking good.

According to The Athletic’s Maple Leafs reporter Jonas Siegel, Auston is not practicing with the team on Monday, April 29, 2024, two days since last playing with the team.

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Though Auston isn’t at practice before Game 5, he also wasn’t able to practice before Game 3 or 4. So while the Hart Trophy winner may still make it to the ice in Boston, it’s just not a good sign for a completely healthy return. While he’s not yet scratched from the lineup, it is worth noting that his absence is being labeled as an illness rather than an injury.

Auston Matthews in Game 4 on Apr. 27, 2024
Source: Getty Images

Auston Matthews in Game 4 on April 27, 2024

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Don’t expect a Michael Jordan–esque "flu game" from Auston

Though sports are full of legendary comeback stories, they’re very few and far between. Michael Jordan’s infamous "flu game" against the Utah Jazz in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals was later revealed as an issue of food poisoning, not the flu. After the game Michael said the game was “probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game.”

It’s important to note Jordan’s "flu game" was in the NBA Finals, not round 1. There aren’t any notable round 1 "flu game"–like comeback stories because they just don’t happen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs face the Boston Bruins in Boston at the TD Garden on Tuesday, April 30. Puck drops at 7 p.m. According to FanDuel the Bruins are the favorites to win Game 5.

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