Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock revealed recently that he has no idea what Auston Matthews' status is in regards to his current injury. This came as a bit of a shock because you'd expect him to be talking with his best player about his progress.
Rather, they'll have a quick "hello, how are you?" one-and-done type conversation and go their separate ways.
Babcock revealed the reason for this behaviour, and it explains a lot.
“I used to ask players questions [about injuries], but what it is, it’s perceived as pressure from the coach,” Babcock said according to Sportsnet's Mike Johnston. “And especially anything that lingers, if that makes any sense. That’s not my job as coach. … When you’re putting pressure on the guy and he comes back and he gets injured – and you see it all the time, recurring injuries – it makes no sense. Like you’re better, especially in a situation like we are, you buy a little time. The other thing about it is no matter who’s away you’ve got to find a way to win games. That’s just it, you know? Suck it up, play right, find a way to win.”
This is as good an explanation as any - the last thing anyone wants is for Matthews to feel pressured to accelerate his progress to help his team. They are currently on a 3-game losing skid, the first time this has happened since late October. With the team unable to score anymore, it would be no surprise to anyone that Matthews is eager to jump back in and right the ship.
Having the head coach put pressure on him would only make him rush his recovery even more. As badly as people want to see him back in the lineup, getting him back to 100% must be the priority.
As Babcock said, they have to "suck it up, play right, find a way to win."