Maple Leafs' Auston Matthews Announced as NHL 22 Cover Athlete

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVAugust 19, 2021

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews reacts after scoring a goal against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews was announced Thursday as the cover athlete for EA Sports' NHL 22 video game.


Back again 🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/AM34?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AM34</a> is your <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHL22?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHL22</a> cover athlete! 💪<br><br>Pre-order now 👉 <a href="https://t.co/JF65PnliKE">https://t.co/JF65PnliKE</a> <a href="https://t.co/IiTjcZxoSI">pic.twitter.com/IiTjcZxoSI</a>

"I think it's a good cover. Not many people get to be on the cover of the video game. I consider myself pretty lucky," Matthews told ESPN's Greg Wyshynski. "I think it's going to be a pretty sweet game."

It's the second time the 23-year-old center has earned the honor after previously gracing the cover of NHL 20. The four-time All-Star told Wyshynski he's not the biggest video game fan, but if he does pick up the sticks it's usually a sports game.

"I've always played video games here and there. I've never been a super-gamer kind of guy, but I do enjoy playing them a lot," Matthews said. "NHL is one that I always enjoyed playing, and looked forward to getting every Christmas. But I played a little FIFA once in a while, which gives you the itch to play the sport itself."

Matthews, who underwent wrist surgery Friday that'll halt his offseason training for at least six weeks, is coming off another standout year for Toronto.

The first overall pick in the 2016 draft led the NHL with 41 goals, which was eight more than the second-ranked player (Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid, 33), and also chipped in 25 assists for 66 points in 52 games.

Matthews has scored at least 34 goals in all five of his seasons with the Leafs, finding the net a total of 199 times in 334 career games.

Toronto will start the 2021-22 season Oct. 13 when it hosts the rival Montreal Canadiens.

NHL 22 is scheduled for an Oct. 15 worldwide release on Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4.