This morning, Auston Matthews talked to Dean Blundell on Sportsnet 590 The Fan about his experiences at the combine, happening right now in Buffalo (We wrote about it here). We are following the media footprint of our boy Matthews as he slowly trudges through the "hectic" media and team meeting schedule of the week.
Blundell opened by asking him who he was rooting for in the NBA finals, and Matthews revealed that he's a Warriors fan, because it was hard for him not to root for Steph Curry "after all the work he'd put into the season." Blundell dove straight into the combine after that, asking specifically about how the meeting with the Leafs went. Matthews' answers were exactly what you'd expect.
Here is a swift and partial transcription of some of the most interesting points from the interview. Please note that most of the answers sound like the kind of well-rehearsed media pap that the probable #1 overall pick is honor-bound to provide, but there were a few more human moments. Blundell tried his best to make Matthews laugh, and Matthews was definitely less shell-shocked than he was at the draft lottery selection.
One other interesting thing to note is how relatively relaxed this meeting was compared to, say, Matthew Tkachuk's interview with the St. Louis Blues. The Blues asked Tkachuk some tough questions about his game. The Leafs were not nearly as rigorous with Matthews, maybe because they didn't have to be.
Blundell: What's your experience been like at the combine?
Matthews: It's basically just meetings. Meeting with teams, media. Now that it's getting toward the end of it ... we had our medical yesterday, we start our physicals tomorrow and Saturday. I think a lot of guys are dreading that, but it needs to be done. It's been pretty hectic with all the meetings and media requests. But it's been nice seeing some of my old friends and teammates.
Blundell: Can you do pull-ups?
Matthews: Yeah. I can do a couple. ~giggle~
Blundell: Who was in the Leafs meeting with you?
Matthews: Lou, Mark Hunter, a handful of other guys were in [the Leafs meeting]. It was pretty standard, nothing out of the ordinary as far as questions, but I think it went pretty well.
Blundell: What kind of questions did they ask you?
Matthews: They ask about your family, your interests besides hockey, what you do in your free time, what your family, parents, siblings do. It was more of getting to know you better.
Blundell: Was Lamoriello intimidating?
Matthews: He was a little bit. He seems like a really good guy, passionate about what he does. He cares. You look at him and you know who he is and what he represents, but he's a human being, so you just talk to him.
Blundell: What did he ask you?
Matthews: Lou didn't ask me anything in that meeting.
Blundell: Did he just stare at you?
Matthews: He was in the corner of my peripheral vision. He just sat there and listened.
Blundell: Do you have any preferences about where you go?
Matthews: It doesn't really matter to me. I've said it before. I just want to be drafted & play in the NHL for whatever team that is. Just to have the opportunity to wear an NHL jersey is pretty special.
Blundell: Morgon Rielly said he saw you and Babcock chatting in Russia, and was jealous. What did you talk about?"
Matthews: It was pretty standard, kind of like with Lou. They want to get to know you, what makes you tick, what you're all about. It was a lot of get to know you, see how you react, see the things you do, the kind of person you are.
Blundell: You know about how Toronto is the center of the NHL universe (or so we think). Toronto is a fishbowl and we like to run people out of town. Do you think about that at all, or are you more thinking that you'll just come in and play your game?
Matthews: If Toronto ends up picking me, I'll just give it my best and do everything I can to help the team win and become a better player.
Blundell: Have you rented a place in Toronto yet and picked a number?"
Matthews: No. ~giggle~
Blundell: Nice young man. Hopefully we'll talk to him again when he gets picked #1 by the Leafs.