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.
Lots of recruiting going on during All-Star weekend. Mike Green said he was hearing from guys who want him traded to their team. Auston Matthews said he was pitching Toronto to Doughty. Erik Karlsson got it too.— Craig Custance (@CraigCustance) January 29, 2018
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.
Auston Matthews said he was trying to recruit Drew Doughty to the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend. “He just laughed and skated away.”— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) January 29, 2018
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!
Jack Eichel and Auston Matthews mimicking the Matthews goal signal celebration is great pic.twitter.com/TtPsyp0tcV— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 28, 2018