Juraj Slafkovský is saying all the right things for a young member of the Montreal Canadiens.
Even if it’s the bare minimum, like no longer cheering for players on the rival Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I would say maybe he’s my favourite player in NHL right now so yeah, I like to watch him a lot,” Slafkovsky told reporters at the NHL draft combine earlier this year about Leafs forward Auston Matthews. “He’s just good all over the ice, even in the d-zone… he’s good everywhere, he can score a lot of goals [and has a] good, good slapshot.”
But in an interview in Slovakian with Dennik N’s Stefan Bugan (translated by Reddit user u/Idea666), Slafkovský said his admiration for Matthews is a thing of the past now that they’re rivals.
Matthews and Slafkovský — both first overall picks in the NHL, albeit six years apart — faced off for the first time last night in preseason action.
“Enjoyable, but I don’t look at it that way anymore. He was my favourite player,” Slafkovský said via Bugan of playing against Matthews. “When I was younger, I used to watch his games and notice how he played. Anyway, it was great to play against him.”
Slafkovský registered an assist, while Matthews was held scoreless in Toronto’s 5-1 win over the Canadiens.
“The result is not what we would have liked,” Slafkovský added, via the translation. “But if I look at my game, I feel like it’s improving from game to game. I want to develop myself and I always believe that the next game will be better than the previous one. From the beginning I’ve been saying that I need to get used to the overseas style a little bit, in Europe there is more time for everything and you don’t play so much to the body. Now I have to learn to use my body more and improve in some other details. But I believe in my abilities. This was my best performance in [the] preseason, but it was still far from how I can play.”
Matthews and Slafkovský will get the chance to duel for real in just eight days, when the Leafs take on the Canadiens on October 12 for the regular season opening night matchup.
- You might also like:
- 10 players you forgot ever played for the Montreal Canadiens