When you are a prominent and talented player in the National Hockey League, people expect you to score many goals and be a leader in scoring across the circuit. However, when you start off with four goals in your first ever NHL game, people start to have doubts about you... even if you are Toronto Maple Leafs phenom Auston Matthews.
During his NHL debut against the Ottawa Senators back in 2016, Matthews impressed everyone by scoring four goals. We are sure Matthews had better ways to celebrate his debut in the league, but instead, drug testers showed up to the party. Right after his four-goal debut, the NHL's drug testers were ready to put him through the test, according to Craig Custance of The Athletic.
"And right on cue, the league’s drug testers arrived the next day.
Matthews was at practice with his Toronto teammates when they showed up to give him another welcome to the NHL. He was part of the randomly selected no-notice drug testing that happens during the season under the NHL’s drug policy.
Of course, his teammates let him hear it.
“All the boys were giving me a hard time, the next day at practice, I didn’t know what was going on,” Matthews told The Athletic.
The scrutiny from drug testers carried right on into his second season.
“For some reason, my name got pulled every single time last year in the season,” Matthews said. “That was insane. Every time they showed up: ‘You. Matthews.’ Every time. I don’t know how many times they came to the rink. I think there was only one time where I didn’t get drug tested.”"
Drug testing has become a hot topic of discussion in the NHL, following the 20-game suspension handed out to Nate Schmidt of the Vegas Golden Knights, who was suspended for violating the NHL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
While Schmidt has denied knowingly taking the drugs, the NHL has yet to review his case. Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche passionately defended him as he talked to Custance:
“I do believe him,” MacKinnon told The Athletic. “I don’t think he was f injecting a needle in his ass. We’re all hockey players. We all respect the game. I’m sure Nate Schmidt isn’t a cheater. I believe him. I don’t think he intentionally did anything.”
One thing is clear: Matthews has passed all drug tests with flying colours. Still, he keeps being targeted.