Why Does Auston Matthews Spray Paint Stick? Decoding Stick-Painting Ritual

James Felix

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Auston Matthews Spray Paint Stick

Auston Matthews, the dynamic center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has captured the attention of hockey enthusiasts not just for his exceptional skills on the ice but for a distinctive pre-game ritual of spray painting his hockey stick.

This unique practice has become more than a routine; it’s a canvas for self-expression and a symbolic extension of Matthews’ identity. 

Originating from practicality during his youth in Switzerland, the tradition has transformed into a visually captivating and emotionally charged spectacle.

In this exploration, we delve into the origins, symbolism, and impact of Auston Matthews’ stick-painting ritual, uncovering the layers of creativity and personal connection that make it a noteworthy phenomenon in the world of professional hockey.

Who Is Auston Matthews?

Auston Matthews is a highly accomplished professional ice hockey player, born on September 17, 1997, in San Ramon, California.

As a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the National Hockey League (NHL), Matthews has become one of the league’s premier talents.

Selected first overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, he quickly made an impact, earning the Calder Trophy for Rookie of the Year. Known for his extraordinary goal-scoring prowess, Matthews has consistently been a league leader in goals and points.

Beyond his on-ice achievements, he is recognized for his unique stick-painting ritual, adding a personalized and creative dimension to his identity both on and off the ice.

Why Does Auston Matthews Spray Paint Stick?

Auston Matthews, the star player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has garnered attention not just for his exceptional hockey skills but also for his unique pre-game ritual: spray painting his hockey stick.

This distinctive habit has sparked curiosity among fans and analysts alike, prompting questions about its origin, purpose, and potential impact on his performance.

Genesis of the Tradition

Matthews began the practice of spray painting his stick during his teenage years in Switzerland. Faced with the challenge of adapting to wooden sticks instead of the familiar composite ones, he found a creative solution.

The slippery nature of the wooden sticks led him to experiment with spray paint, transforming them into personalized and grippier tools for the game.

Colorful Creations in North America

Upon returning to North America and joining the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, Matthews continued his stick spray painting tradition.

His sticks often reflect the team’s jersey colors, but he takes it a step further by incorporating various patterns, logos, and even personal messages.

This habit has become a canvas for self-expression and a unique way for Matthews to connect with the game on a personal level.

Personal Touch and Symbolism

In a poignant example, Matthews inscribed “I love you Mom” on his stick during a game against the Montreal Canadiens in 2019, paying tribute to his mother battling breast cancer.

Beyond aesthetics, the stick painting serves as a medium for Matthews to convey emotions, beliefs, and personal stories.

Matthews’ Perspective

While Matthews himself downplays the idea that spray painting his stick significantly influences his on-ice performance, he acknowledges the comfort and confidence it provides.

For him, the ritual is a source of enjoyment, allowing him to bring an element of fun and personality to the serious business of professional hockey.

Matthews’ Achievements

Matthews' Achievements

Regardless of the debates surrounding his stick-painting ritual, Auston Matthews has undeniably established himself as one of the NHL’s premier players.

His accolades, including the Calder Trophy and the Maurice Richard Trophy, showcase his exceptional skill and impact on the game.

Despite the Toronto Maple Leafs’ quest for a Stanley Cup, Matthews continues to captivate fans with his creative approach to the sport he loves.

Analyzing the Impact

Experts and analysts have offered varied perspectives on the potential impact of Matthews’ stick painting. While some argue that it might not drastically affect performance, others suggest that visual distinctiveness could have strategic advantages.

The stick’s visibility to teammates, opponents, and even Matthews himself could play a role in enhancing accuracy, reducing turnovers, and introducing an element of unpredictability.

A Personal Tradition Continues

Auston Matthews remains steadfast in his commitment to spray painting his stick, viewing it as an integral part of his identity and passion for hockey.

As he continues to leave an indelible mark on the sport, he invites fans to appreciate the creativity and individuality that this unique tradition brings to the game.

How Matthews’ Unique Stick-Painting Practice Resonates With Fans?

Auston Matthews’ distinctive stick-painting ritual has transcended the realm of on-ice preparation, becoming a unique facet of his identity and a source of connection with fans.

This personalized tradition goes beyond aesthetics, resonating deeply with the Toronto Maple Leafs faithful and the broader hockey community.

A Canvas of Emotion and Meaning

Matthews’ stick paintings go beyond mere decoration—they tell stories. Whether it’s a nod to team colors, a tribute to a loved one, or a personal message of resilience, each stroke of the spray paint carries emotional weight.

This intersection of artistry and sport allows fans to connect with Matthews on a more profound level, seeing the human behind the hockey superstar.

Expressing Individuality in a Team Sport

Expressing Individuality in a Team Sport

In a sport where teamwork and uniformity often take center stage, Matthews’ penchant for spray painting his stick introduces an element of individuality.

Fans appreciate his ability to inject personal flair into a traditionally regimented environment, transforming a piece of equipment into a canvas for self-expression.

Shared Moments and Symbolism

The moments when Matthews reveals his latest stick creation resonate as shared experiences among fans. Whether through social media, pre-game warm-ups, or post-game interviews, fans eagerly anticipate and dissect the symbolism behind each design.

This shared enthusiasm creates a communal bond, fostering a sense of unity among fans brought together by a common appreciation for their star player’s unique rituals.

Fan Engagement and Participation

Matthews’ stick-painting tradition isn’t a one-way street; it invites fan engagement. Supporters find inspiration in his creative endeavors, with some even attempting to replicate the practice on their own sticks.

This participatory element strengthens the connection between player and fan, turning a personal ritual into a shared tradition that extends beyond the rink.

A Unique Identity for the Team

In the broader context of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Matthews’ stick-painting practice contributes to the team’s identity.

As a leader and focal point, his individuality becomes woven into the fabric of the entire franchise. Fans proudly embrace this unique tradition as a symbol of the Maple Leafs’ distinctiveness in the NHL landscape.

Endearing Eccentricity

While hockey has its share of traditions and superstitions, Matthews’ stick painting stands out as an endearing eccentricity. Fans appreciate the authenticity it brings to the game, humanizing a player often seen donning the team’s iconic blue and white. 

This departure from convention adds a layer of relatability, making Matthews not just a star athlete but a person with quirks and passions.

Uniting Through Color and Creativity

Matthews’ stick-painting practice unites fans with a vibrant display of colors and designs, creating a shared visual language. The diverse aesthetics foster camaraderie, as supporters rally behind their team and its uniquely expressive star player.

Inspiring Fandom Beyond the Ice

Matthews’ stick-painting tradition extends into popular culture, inspiring fans to showcase their allegiance with custom-painted sticks.

This cultural impact elevates the sport’s profile, fostering pride among enthusiasts who see themselves as part of a creatively influenced hockey movement.

A Personal Connection in the Digital Age

In the digital age, Matthews’ stick-painting updates become online rallying points, creating a virtual arena for global fans to engage in real-time discussions.

Through social media, enthusiasts share interpretations of each stick’s story, amplifying the communal experience and expressing admiration for Matthews’ creativity.


Why does Auston Matthews spray paint his stick before games?

Auston Matthews began this tradition as a teenager playing in Switzerland, where he found wooden sticks slippery.

Does the spray painting ritual have a strategic purpose in Matthews’ game?

While Matthews himself suggests it doesn’t significantly impact performance, some experts speculate that the distinctive stick may enhance visibility for teammates, making his moves less predictable for opponents.

How did Matthews’ stick-painting tradition start?

Matthews started spray painting his sticks while playing in Switzerland due to the challenges posed by using wooden sticks instead of composite ones.

Does Matthews use specific colors or designs for symbolism?

Matthews often chooses colors that match his team’s jersey but adds personal touches, such as messages or tributes.

Has Matthews’ stick-painting tradition gained popularity among fans or other players?

Yes, Matthews’ unique ritual has resonated with fans, inspiring some to replicate it.

To Recap

Auston Matthews’ stick-painting ritual is more than a pre-game routine; it’s a captivating fusion of personal expression and on-ice identity. Originating from a practical need in his youth, it has evolved into a colorful canvas where creativity meets emotion.

Whether through symbolic tributes or vibrant designs, Matthews connects with fans on a deeper level, turning a simple hockey tool into a narrative of his journey.

While the strategic impact may be debated, its resonance among fans, the sense of unity it fosters, and the unique personal touch it adds to the game solidify Matthews’ spray-painting tradition as a cherished and enduring aspect of his hockey legacy.

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James Felix

As Head Boy's Ice Hockey Coach at Milton Academy, I foster teamwork, discipline, and skill development. Our success relies on dedication and refining tactics. We balance academics with on-ice performance, shaping well-rounded individuals. Together, we uphold Milton Academy's tradition of excellence in athletics and academics. LinkedIn

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