Mitch, let’s hear the scouting report on Dylan.
Dylan Strome Oh God. [Laughs.]
Mitch Marner Decent hair. Good facial features.
DS Thank you.
MM Great teeth for a hockey player.
MM Teeth! I don’t look at your feet! He’s got a beautiful heart. He’s a guy you like off the ice but hate on the ice. He’ll battle for pucks and make plays out of nothing. He’s a guy you want to slash all the time.
Is that how you shut him down?
MM I think you just chirp him. He doesn’t like that too much.
DS I hate it.
MM He hates when I joke around with him on the ice because he’s always so serious.
DS Like when you get a point before me.
MM Yeah, he’ll get so mad. I’ll say that to him and he’ll give me this look like he doesn’t ever want to talk to me again. He’d rather kill me than talk to me.
DS Until I get one back on you, then we’re friends again.
You grew up playing against each other, but I hear you weren’t big fans of each other.
DS I don’t think we ever talked to each other. Ever. We were always on rival teams. He’s that little runt who just goes around and dangles our whole team and scores and then celebrates for 10 seconds too long. You can’t really like that guy on the ice.
MM I hated their team. So whenever I scored I really made sure they knew it.
What was it like the first time you two met?
DS I remember it. Do you, Marns?
MM You can go.
DS It was at the under-17 practice at the MasterCard Centre [in Toronto]. I didn’t know you at all. They just announced the under-17 team for Ontario. We met in the room. We still didn’t talk that much. I guess we became closer when we started to play euchre and we became linemates.
Did you have instant chemistry as linemates?
DS We started out on different lines for the first game. The second game, against Russia, we were down 4–1 after the second, and then we got put on the same line. Mitch got a hat trick in the third period. We ended up losing in a shootout, but that was the start.
Dylan, you said it would have been a lot of pressure to be drafted by the Leafs, being a hometown kid. Any advice for Mitch?
DS I think Mitch is going to be fine. He knows how to handle the media really well. He’s a good talker, so it’s not like he’s ever going to be hard-pressed for words. I think he knows exactly what to say and he lets his play do the talking.
Mitch, have you noticed more eyes on you now that you’re a Leafs prospect?
MM It’s kind of crazy. Toronto’s a pretty big team. It’s better than no one watching you, I guess.
Dylan, exciting things are happening in Arizona right now. A lot of young talent.
DS They’re doing good. The young guys are playing well and the old guys are playing well.
MM The old guys. Oh my God. I hope they hear that one.
DS I didn’t mean it like “the old guys.” The older guys. They’re old guys to me. I’m only 18 and they’re all 30 or above so that is pretty old.
MM They’re all gonna hate you!
Dylan, your turn. Scouting report on Marner.
DS Mitchell. Wow, Mitchell.
MM All right, Mom. What ya got to say here?
DS Off the ice, he’s a really funny guy. Sometimes he’s a little bit immature, but that’s what we like about him. He loves to keep the mood light and have a lot of fun. Whatever I want to do, he’s always up for it. He’s very easygoing. And on the ice, I don’t like to play against him very much. He makes other teams’ defences very worried. He’s so good with the puck and so crafty.
So how do you shut him down?
DS I watch a lot of his games so I see the way he plays, and I can give our defencemen a few hints. You can’t shut him down the whole night, but you try to contain him and limit him to as few chances as possible.
That’s what friends are for, right?
DS Right. Limiting their chances.
Aside from hockey, what do you guys have in common?
MM Want me to go first?
DS I would appreciate it.
MM We both like sushi. We’re pretty goofy. I’m getting into the street-hockey thing now. Dylan can tell you about it. It’s too intense.
DS Once every two or three weeks in the summer, we’ll get together on a Sunday. In Mississauga, my hometown, we’ve got a lot of friends who play high-level hockey. Sometimes we get imports like Marns to come in and play…
MM Goalie. That’s what happened last time.
DS Here we go…
MM We didn’t have a goalie, and Dylan started getting all mad, so we decided to put me in net. We won the next two games, Dylan scored like four goals. Then it was game seven. Dylan’s brother Matthew comes down and rifles a shot—I took it in the face. I wasn’t wearing a mask. I ate the orange ball; it killed. Like, it hurt so bad. But I stopped it. I shot it up to Dylan and he scored.
DS [Laughs.] We won game seven, threw our gloves everywhere and went crazy. It was really fun.
MM I couldn’t feel my face.
Being teammates at the world juniors is something different.
DS It’s something I’ve wanted for a really long time. This is the highest level you can get for our age. I think it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we’ve got and how close we are and how well we play together.
Have you guys been away from home for the holidays before?
MM No, I haven’t.
DS I never have either.
MM It’ll be pretty crazy. Your first time away from your family at Christmas. You’re usually singing Christmas songs, joking around. But it’ll be a lot of fun, everyone together in one room as a team. A bonding moment.
And you’ll have Dylan there, right? He’s like family.
MM Yeah, I’ll have Dylan there to annoy and make him feel like he’s my brother.
DS [Laughs.] Great.
Dylan, what should people know about Mitch?
DS He loves cuddling.
Mitch, same question about Dylan.
MM He loves cuddling, too. Exact same!