BUFFALO – Marek Hejduk was exposed to some unusual situations over the course of the numerous interviews to which he was invited during the week of evaluation of the best prospects for the next National League draft.
The son of former Colorado Avalanche star Milan Hejduk grew a few gray hairs for team executives who had known his sire well. He was also greeted with a hint of irony in the Detroit Red Wings box, where he was happily teased about the intense rivalry his father contributed to at the turn of the 2000s.
“If I had to be drafted by the Red Wings, it could take him a while to make peace with it,” laughed the 159-ranked player.e rank on the list of top North American prospects compiled by the NHL Central Scouting.
Another interview marked the young Hejduk, this one for a reason of a completely different nature. It’s the one with the Montreal Canadiens.
“It was probably my most difficult encounter,” he admitted bluntly.
Quite quickly, we realized that the same admission came from the mouths of almost all the athletes who passed in front of the microphones after having submitted to the physical tests which traditionally mark the conclusion of the Combined in Buffalo.
“I was invited by 27 teams and I think my interview with Montreal was the hardest for me,” said Czech forward Filip Mesar.
“In my opinion, it was the hardest, yes,” repeated Drummondville Voltigeurs defender Maveric Lamoureux.
The delegation of the Canadian especially made talk for having confronted its guests with this question which found itself on everyone’s lips on Saturday: what animal would you compare yourself to on the ice and outside of it?
The fawn family was strongly represented in the responses. The lion, jaguar and leopard were probably the most popular. The Slovak Juraj Slafkovsky described himself as a wolf “because everyone answers the lion”, he justified, tongue-in-cheek.
Lamoureux allowed himself to dabble in self-mockery by describing himself, without his skates, to a panda. “Because I’m a big sweet, kind to everyone,” justified the 6-foot-7 giant. “But on the ice, I’m a lion because I’m aggressive and I want to be respected. »
American striker Rutger McGroarty was the most original, but admitted to having cheated slightly. The question had reached his ears before entering the room occupied by the CH and he had therefore had time to prepare his reaction.
“I said I was a gorilla dad because I lead by example and I’m a family guy. On the ice, I described myself as an African hound because I’m always on the attack! »
The team’s sports psychology advisor, David Scott, also seems to have taken pleasure in torturing his young interlocutors.
The Habs have a bit off a rep here as the toughest interview. Just now Calle Odelius said they asked him if he would pick up $10 off the toilet seat or $50 from the toilet. He thing the $50.
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) June 4, 2022
“They asked me to compare some of my teammates,” Hejduk shared. They wanted to know who was the worst skater, who was the most overrated… I was definitely not going to get into this little game! »
Noah Warren, of the Gatineau Olympiques, did not seem to have been particularly marked by his face-to-face with the Montrealers. But “there was perhaps their psychologist who challenged a little,” he added. The giant format defender said he was placed in front of a heartbreaking ethical dilemma around which he preferred to keep the secret.
“I would say something about my physical game, they would respond by asking me why I lacked consistency, offered Lamoureux as an example. They wanted to see how I defended myself, if I was going to let it go. They wanted to test my character. »
“Warren skates on the boot”
The only one who seems to have been spared by the destabilizing tactics of the CH is Jack Hughes, the son of general manager Kent Hughes. The 18-year-old said he was nervous at the idea of doing this exercise in the presence of his father, but realized after the fact that he had not been stirred too much.
“They were probably harder on other guys. We talked about hockey, how I approached certain situations, but as for the type of person I am, they probably already had the answers they were looking for,” he concluded with a smile.