Toronto Maple Leafs franchise centre Auston Matthews is the reigning Rocket Richard Trophy winner and currently sits first in the NHL in goals as a highly accurate shooter, but he wouldn’t mind trying his hand at leading the CFL in passing yards.
The Arizona-born hockey star hooked up with Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ linebacker Simoni Lawrence ahead of Sunday’s Heritage Classic at Tim Hortons Field, admitting that if the field were turf or grass he’d rather be under centre than playing it.
“I think I’d like to sling it at QB,” Matthews said with his trademark smirk.
The six-foot-three, 220-pound sniper showed off his arm strength during the pandemic and clearly possesses the requisite frame and accuracy for the position, but he isn’t the only Leaf vying for the role.
Defenceman Justin Holl told Lawrence that he too would like to play quarterback and while Matthews would offer stiff competition, the former first overall NHL Draft pick would be the one holding a clipboard.
“He’s actually got a pretty good arm, too,” Holl admitted. “I’d like to think of myself as the starter, he could be my understudy.”
Leafs power forward Wayne Simmonds was asked to cast the tie-breaking vote, siding against his team’s young superstar.
“I ain’t never seen ‘Matty’ throw the ball, so I gotta say Justin,” the veteran of more than 1,000 NHL games confessed.
Matthews needn’t worry however, as Holl has a specialist role laid out for the face of the franchise. He wants to be able to throw to his backup with the game on the line, creating an entirely different type of offence.
“I’ll be at quarterback, he’ll be in a wildcat or something like that,” Holl schemed. “We’ll put him in motion.”
With the CFL’s waggle, that could be an absolutely lethal offensive combination.