Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews might have found the best way to become the top player in the National Hockey League this season. The young forward spent his offseason improving his game and his body. That’s right, James Mirtle of The Athelic has reported that Matthews lost close to 15 pounds this offseason as he wanted more flexibility and agility on the ice.
To make that happen, he hired trainer Ian Mack, who helped transformed Chicago Blackhawks veteran Patrick Kane undergo two years ago.
“At the end of every season, I’m evaluating all aspects of my game,” Matthews explained recently. “I’m always trying to improve. I’d heard really good things about Ian from players I know and respect. And he seemed to fit perfectly with what I was looking for.”
Mack, with the help of his Toronto-based partner, Sam Gibbs, took on the challenge and it started with having Matthews shed some pounds.
“When I first looked at him – he’s big,” Mack said, noting that Matthews came to him at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds, a dramatic difference from someone like Kane. “He’s strong. He’s fast. He’s everything. So what do you want?”
And Matthews too was ready for the challenged and call Mack back the next day to start training.
“I was thinking about what we talked about yesterday,” Matthews said. “I want to play at 210. I think I’d feel amazing. So let’s give that a shot.”
Their work together was different than the one Mack did with Kane two years ago, thanks in great part to the pandemic. Rather than meet in person, they would connect every day on FaceTime, six or seven days a week.
Mack and Gibbs hired a personal chef for Matthews in order to help him safely to drop around 14 pounds in a little more than four months. We don’t know if he managed to get there, though Mirtle says this in his article:
(His weight has not yet been updated on the Leafs website, but a few eagle-eyed fans noticed the change on the camp roster when it was released on social media last week.)
“I’m really happy how it’s all worked out,” Matthews said. “Ian’s a great person, with a forward-thinking philosophy. It’s been a lot of fun to work with him. And I feel great.”