Q&A: Auston Matthews on playoff losses, Marner’s contract situation

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CHICAGO — Inside the Toronto Maple Leafs’ dressing room the video games of choice recently have been Call of Duty, Fortnite and NHL. Now that Auston Matthews is on the cover of NHL 20, the EA Sports game might vault to the top of their power rankings.

The 90-overall rated Matthews is himself a gamer, as are a number of his Maple Leafs teammates.

“We actually have some guys that are pretty good at video games,” Matthews told NBC Sports at 2019 NHL Player Media Tour in Chicago on Thursday. “I want to dog Freddie [Andersen] but he’s not bad. He’s okay. 

One former Maple Leafs found out the hard way how good Matthews is at the NHL game.

“A couple of years ago we did an NHL tournament and I played Curtis McElhinney and I don’t think he’s ever played NHL before,” Matthews said. “I think I mercy ruled him. So that was fun for me, I don’t know if it was fun for him.”

We spoke with Matthews about another Round 1 exit to the Boston Bruins, Mitch Marner’s future,

PHT: What can you take from the way last season ended to help you this year?

MATTHEWS: “I think just the motivation. It’s three years in a row where we’ve lost in the first round, but obviously last two years to the same team, same result, same Game 7. It’s kind of s—– to go through that stuff, but in the end, I think a lot of times it can be beneficial in going through those experiences and learning from them and bringing your best foot forward so next time you’re in that situation you pull through and get over that hump.”

PHT: Do you watch the rest of the playoffs when you’re done?

MATTHEWS: “I don’t really watch the rest of it. I watch the Final and that’s probably about it. I’ll watch a game here and there. For the most part, I just try to stay away. To me, it’s frustrating watching when you could be playing.”

PHT: Sting even more that the Bruins reached Game 7 of the Final?

MATTHEWS: “Yeah, it’s kind of like a what could have been, right? It definitely leaves a sour taste in your mouth. It’s not something that ever really goes away, but it definitely adds some extra motivation going into the season. They’re obviously a good team, we’re a good team, you just never know what could happen — it could happen again. It’s just something that you embrace and look forward to if it happens. Obviously, you want to get over that mental hump that we’ve been in.”

PHT: As Mitch [Marner] goes through the contract situation, has he reached out to you about going through the process?

MATTHEWS: “No, not really. We’ve talked and we haven’t really spoke about his contract or situation. It’s really none of my business. He’s doing what they feel is best for him. For us, as players on the team, and as friends we just hope it works out for the best and that he comes back as soon as possible because he’s a big part of the team and we want to see him there.”

MORE:
• ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.