The Maple Leafs’ star centre made a statement Wednesday at the team’s morning skate less than 24 hours after news broke of Matthews facing a charge of disorderly conduct and disruptive behaviour after an incident in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz., in May.
“It’s not something that I think any of us really wish we were talking about today. Unfortunately, it’s the situation we’re in.” Matthews said. “I regret any of my actions that would ever put a distraction on the team or distress any individual.
“I take a lot of pride in preparing myself for the season and representing the Toronto Maple Leafs as well as I can. Unfortunately due to the situation, I’m afraid I can’t really make any other comments.”
Matthews did not take questions from reporters before the Leafs’ pre-season game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said he first learned of the charge on Tuesday.
“You’re always disappointed,” Babcock said. “As the Toronto Maple Leafs, we always pride ourselves on doing things right — on the ice, off the ice — in treating people. And so it’s an unfortunate situation.”
A pre-trial conference is set for Wednesday.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly declined comment when asked about the allegations.
A police report obtained from the Scottsdale Police Department says the complaint was filed by a female security guard employed by a local condo building where she says Matthews is a resident. She said she was sitting in her locked car when a group of men, including Matthews, allegedly tried to get inside the car with her May 26.
She said she confronted the group, who she believed to be intoxicated, and during that interaction Matthews withdrew from the conversation and dropped his pants and grabbed his butt cheeks.
She said that Matthews kept his underwear on.
None of the allegations have been proven in court. Matthews was not arrested.
Matthews has been considered one of the leading candidates to be the new captain of the team. The Leafs have said they plan to have a captain after going without one the past two seasons.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2019.