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Photo Credit: © Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Auston Matthews is using the All-Star game to recruit potential teammates

Auston Matthews is only 20 years old, but he made the second All-Star game appearance of his career this weekend. When he was a rookie, he was quiet and reserved at the event. But this year, Matthews’ personality was one of the event’s bright spots.

According to Craig Custance, Matthews was trying to lure some of the other All-Stars — a couple of defencemen who are set to hit unrestricted free agency soon — to Toronto.

Erik Karlsson and Drew Doughty are set to headline a massive unrestricted free agent class in 2019. If either player makes it to the open market on July 1, 2019, they’ll be the best defenders to be available in free agency since the Boston Bruins inked Zdeno Chara to a franchise-changing contract all the way back in 2006.

Unfortunately for Auston, his pitch didn’t work too well on Doughty, who’s already heard enough about joining his hometown Leafs. I’m starting to think that Doughty is going to be a Leaf for as long as Steven Stamkos. Karlsson, though! That dream is still alive and well.

Now, all the fun and games aside, could this be viewed as tampering?

Unsurprisingly, there’s a rule that says players aren’t allowed to help with the negotiations of other players who are currently under contract. Though, I really don’t think this is what’s going on here. There isn’t any negotiation going on. It’s just playful “you’re good! Come play with me!” stuff. This happens all the time in the NBA even though there are rules against it. But how exactly would you even punish this? How often behind the scenes do players have these kinds of conversations? I mean, it’s pretty basic for a guy to say “yeah man playing in Toronto is great you’d love it” and that’s that.

This is a lot different than in 2009 when Ron Wilson was fined for expressing interest in the Sedins joining the Leafs when they were set to hit unrestricted free agency.

All in all, this is just lighthearted good fun. Seldom in the NHL do players show personality, and this weekend, we witnessed Auston Matthews show some at the All-Star game. If he gets punished for it or it’s made into a big deal, that would be a shame because it would validate the players being guarded with their personality.

The All-Star game can be fun!

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  • Glen

    I a big Austin fan but I thought he was somewhat less than spectacular on ice at this event. But the whole affair is a bit hokey in any case so that doesn’ mean a whole lot.

  • jimithy

    What an insulting All Star spectacle to anyone over the age of five. Millions spent on a two-bit production. All the hundreds of cameras unable to focus on the actual point of being there. And so much hand kissing the small clique of owners and managers must be blushing.
    Listening to Jim Hughson and Craig Simpson try to string coherent sentences together was not taken lightly.
    Also, these so-called All-Stars don’t seem to be able to execute the masterful control of the puck one would expect from professionals. What a let-down.

  • Capt.Jay

    Those pacific division uniforms….
    I meant the jersey was one thing but the white pants was 1992 Canadian women’s hockey championship all over again. I don’t usually care about that stuff but I read somewhere that a reporter is pissed that people are critics of them so I thought I’d chime in just out of spite.

    But seriously. Someone off on that… lol