It’s not unusual at this time of the year in Canada for all eyes to be pointing squarely at the out of town scoreboard. Of course, normally Canadian cities are doing playoff math, but with all seven Canadian teams on the outside looking in, scoreboard watching has turned into Auston Matthews watching.
After all, it’s hard not to watch Connor McDavid excel for the Oilers and want the same for your team of choice. That isn’t to say Matthews is McDavid, but sometimes you want to go into the Casino with a bunch of money and the odds on your side, you know?
Of course, in Vancouver, the Hockey Gods have never been on the friendliest of terms with the Canucks. They’re like an uncle that occasionally visits and brings gifts for all the other kids, then remembers he forgot to get you one so he tosses you a packet of peanuts he had in his pocket as a consolation.
Hell, Vancouver’s first interaction in the NHL with the Hockey Gods ended up with a roulette wheel setting the tone for the Canucks future. High burst of optimism, followed by confusion, ending ultimately in sadness.
It’s that sort of luck that has you envisioning all the worst-case scenarios that could play out as the fight(?) for the number one draft pick plays out over the rest of the NHL season. On top of the hockey ramifications of the number one pick, though, there are also the media ramifications. As seen by “Connor McDavid ties skates for the very first time in an Oilers jersey!” type stories, you just know Matthews will have some of the same hype behind him.
With that in mind, here are the worst-case scenarios for Auston Matthews-mania, should he end up on a Canadian team.
Toronto lands the number one pick
- The Leafs draft Auston Matthews. Sportsnet immediately begins filming a new reality series called “Auston City Limits”, in which they follow Matthews around in his car while he tries signing up for various Rogers cell phone plans. Mark Messier will reprise his role as “creepy old bald dude” texting a teenager about their whereabouts.
- The Leafs sign Steve Stamkos. Sportsnet, who can’t believe their luck at this point, immediately start a reality series called “Two Steves” in which Steve Simmons is brought on to travel around in a car with Stamkos as they look for the perfect Rogers cell phone plan. Occasionally Simmons will yell at children out of his window about his dislike of Corsi, and throw rocks at them.
- George Stroumboulopoulos will have 18 intermission segments (to be shown during Canucks games) about skinny tie shopping with Auston Matthews. They will then use the Sportsnet studio to replay common “tie mistakes” made, with Corey Hirsch offering up a riveting piece on how ties can be made even smaller. Each segment ends with the entire panel offering up thoughts on the best Rogers cell phone plan for Auston and Stamkos.
Montreal lands the number one pick
- Auston Matthews is drafted, but a long discussion begins on him not being “French enough”. As with many discussions of the Habs, it eventually turns into a season-long talking point about PK Subban and his ranking in the NHL hierarchy. “Sure, Auston has a great skillset, but why is PK Subban pinching for the puck with his team down a goal?”
- Headlines are dominated in October when word leaks out the Auston doesn’t know what poutine is. Even worse, once the concept is explained to him not only does he not understand it, he doesn’t even like the idea of it. “So it’s a stew? It has gravy and potatoes right? Look, I’m just not a big stew guy, I’m sorry.”
Ottawa lands the number one pick
- Despite Ottawa getting the number one pick, Sportsnet runs a two-hour special on what that means for the Toronto Maple Leafs followed up by a two-hour special on the Blue Jays season last year.
- Eugene Melnyk starts a seven-day telethon and offers up Auston Matthews to any team that can bring forth evidence that proves Matt Cooke did indeed intentionally cut Erik Karlsson back in 2013. Pittsburgh provides proof and gets Matthews, and proceeds to win two Stanley Cups. Questions immediately begin about if Matthews career is on a downward trend after the Pens fail to win a third Cup in a row.
- In an attempt to capture the imagination of the fans like they did with Andrew Hammond last season, Auston Matthews is nicknamed “The Gravy Man”. This ends in disaster when the ice is flooded with hot gravy after Matthews scores his first NHL goal and Karlsson is put on the IR with third degree gravy burns. Melnyk vows to find the person behind the gravy and centers his attention on Matt Cooke.
Calgary lands the number one pick
- Brian Burke’s appearances on TV are doubled, meaning the increase in discussion on the status of his loosened ties, triples in volume. Also due to his excitement over the pick, Burke’s hair grows even spikier, leading to his ultimate final form, the Truculent Hedgehog who spends his days picking fights with people in barns and collecting gold rings. Burke then strongly encourages Treliving to “grow two tails.” which Brad takes to be a really confusing metaphor for getting the most out of a trade.
- CBC laments how while it’s pretty neat that Matthews is playing so well, it’s not nearly as glorious as that time 18-year-old Sam Bennett dominated the Canucks in the 2015 playoffs. Craig Simpson begins openly weeping on air at one point. Jim Hughson is revealed to be a robot after he short circuits and says nothing else but “THAT’S ROBBERY!” over and over again for three weeks straight.
Winnipeg lands the number one pick
- Media enters a blackout period as they are caught off guard by something good actually happening to Winnipeg.
- Gary Bettman demands all games in Winnipeg start with a song devoted to him called “Am I not merciful? The Gary Bettman tribute song about saving hockey in Winnipeg (put the bacon on the side)” for allowing Matthews to go to the Jets.
- Dustin Byfuglien immediately greets Matthews by lighting fire to his track suits, including the one he is wearing. This signals a 24/7 media discussion on if lighting fire to teammates clothing needs to be taken out of the game.
- Each week Winnipeg media presents a special on how Matthews is better than Evander Kane. The stats are dubious at best. “Prefers butter on his toast to peanut butter.” leads the charge for three weeks straight.
Vancouver lands the number one pick
- Jim Benning, never on good terms with auto-correct to begin with, ends up mistakenly drafting someone named “Austin Mathers”, a Canadian university student who last played hockey in 2001. Vancouver, unwilling to admit its mistake, claims this was part of their plan all along, and that they feel getting a player in that 37-year-age range is preferred, as he is ready to play now, versus waiting several years for a draft pick to mature. CBC breaks this draft down for the next several years.
- A town hall meeting is held where Trevor Linden patiently explains that Auston Matthews “seemed like kind of a douche” and that sometimes you have to go with the local kid with the intangibles. When an incredulous fan demands to know what intangibles a 37-year-old retired university hockey player can bring to the team, Trevor Linden merely winks and starts handing out memberships to Club 16.
- Despite the obvious mistake, the Canucks start Austin Mathers on the wing with the Sedins to start the season. Mathers gets an assist after the puck bounces off his skate right to Daniel Sedin. This would mark the high point of the “Mathers Era”, and plans for a celebration of that night are planned for the following week. A celebration of that celebration are planned for next season.
Edmonton lands the number one pick
- Edmonton lands the number one pick.
- That’s it.
- There is no other worse case scenario.
- It will be like Connor McDavid, except now there’s two of them.
- Lock your doors, burn your TVs.
- Take up knitting.
- Take solace in the fact you will no longer be getting updates on what kind of socks Matthews and McDavid bought together at the West Edmonton Mall.