“I’m leading the league in at least six statistical categories right now: Best flow, most consistent, realest stories, most charisma, I set the most trends… and my interviews are hotter.” — Jay-Z
If you missed Patrik Laine’s FaceTime interview with Daren Millard on Saturday night at the NHL Draft Lottery, you’re going to want to get comfortable for this.
And if you did catch Prospect No. 2’s Q&A, well, it’s probably worth a second viewing. Go ahead, lie down:
“As somebody who’s been in this business for almost 25 years, that is Top 3 strangest interviews. Out of respect for somebody I’m forgetting, I’ll say Top 3. Otherwise, I’d go straight to No. 1 as one of the strangest conversations I’ve ever had with an athlete,” Millard, Hockey Central’s host, said afterward on a live taping of the Tape II Tape podcast on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “He marches to the beat of his own drum.”
That drum, we’re guessing, beats approximately thrice a minute and may be inflated with something soon to be legal in Winnipeg.
“I think he was a bit shy or excited or nervous,” said Finnish hockey reporter Juha Hiitela. “Talking to North American media is always intense when you’re 18.”
To be fair, when the sniper plugged in his earbuds to meet Canada, it was about 3 a.m. in Scandinavia. Laine, Hiitela explained, had some character issues as a kid but has grown up significantly as a pro, an MVP and a world champion.
“Can you imagine Mike Babcock coaching that guy?” wondered Millard, who can’t remember the last time he was conducting a Q&A and felt like asking his subject to sit up.
Even after the interview, one low-odds lottery team representative told the host, “We’ll still take him if we get there.”
The Winnipeg Jets, who won the No. 2 pick, will continue to scout Laine and fellow Finnish winger Jesse Puljujarvi before making a decision.
“I thought we struck it rich,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff told Hockey Central at Noon Monday. “I couldn’t tell you what it would take to [trade the pick]… If you’re a betting person, bet on us picking at two.”
Laine’s colourful, confident and ultra-laid-back interview had his name trending on Twitter fast. It stands in stark contrast to the one given by the sure thing he’s chasing to be drafted first overall, Auston Matthews.
“I know the gap is now smaller than when the season started,” Laine said. “I hope that I can catch him.”
And the Finn thinks that’s possible if he outperforms the American at the world championships, which kick off this week.
“I know what I’m capable of. I’m not afraid to say it out loud.”