Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello sat in a corner, silent, as director of player personnel Mark Hunter and a handful of team executives interviewed Auston Matthews Tuesday at the NHL Scouting Combine at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
“Lou didn’t ask me anything in that meeting,” Matthews, the presumptive No. 1 draft pick, told Dean Blundell & Co. Thursday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “I could see him out the corner of my eye. He just sat there and listened.”
How soul-crushing would it have been, Blundell joked, if Matthews had glanced over after an answer only to see Lamoriello shake his head?
And the 19-year-old prodigy laughed, a refreshing rarity in Matthews’ strait-laced media tour.
“It’d probably kill my confidence for the rest of that meeting,” he played along.
More on the 2016 NHL Combine here:
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Matthews chuckled a few times during his radio appearance — at leaving gorgeous Arizona to spend a week doing pull-ups in Buffalo and when Blundell wondered if he’d already gone condo shopping in Toronto.
We tend to scrutinize all the fun out of these next ones, so it was cool to hear the kid has a sense of humour.
As for the Leafs job interview, which followed a couple of informal chats with head coach Mike Babcock in Russia at the World Championship, Matthews said it was pretty standard stuff.
The Leafs’ questions focused on Matthews’ family, his free time and outside interests.
“They want to get to know you, what makes you tick, what you’re all about… especially outside of hockey, what kind of person you are,” he explained. “It was pretty standard. Nothing out of the ordinary as far as questions. I think that meeting went pretty well.”
OK. But did Lamoriello frighten him?
“You know, he is a little bit [intimidating],” Matthews admitted. “He seems like a really good guy, really passionate about what he does. He cares. The two times I’ve talked to him, you look at him and you know who he is and what he represents.”
That Matthews’ name will be called by the Leafs on July 24 back in Buffalo is a foregone conclusion, but the prospect is saying all the right things in the meantime. It’s surely music to Lamoriello’s perked ears.
“If Toronto ends up picking me,” he said, “that’s exactly the attitude I’d have–giving it your best and doing the best you can night in and night out to help the team win and become a better player.”