Top NHL pick Matthews influenced by Coyotes

Jul 14, 2016, 9:00 PM
FILE - In this May 15, 2016 file photo, United States' Auston Matthews, left, fights for the puck w...
FILE - In this May 15, 2016 file photo, United States' Auston Matthews, left, fights for the puck with Germany’s Torsten Ankert during a Hockey World Championships Group B match in St.Petersburg, Russia. Matthews spent the past year playing in Switzerland, where he established himself as the NHL's top-ranked draft prospect. Matthews is from Arizona and among more than 100 draft-eligible players taking part in the league's rookie combine in Buffalo. (AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)
(AP Photo/Dmitri Lovetsky, File)
LISTEN: Auston Matthews, Maple Leafs' rookie & Scottsdale Native

The number one pick in 2016 NHL Draft, Auston Matthews, might skate on the ice up north now as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he got his start in the desert.

The Scottsdale native is the first American-born player since 2007 to be drafted first overall in the NHL.

He didn’t find his love for the sport from teams like the Chicago Blackhawks or the Detroit Red Wings; he found it watching his hometown team, the Arizona Coyotes.

“My uncle had season tickets and I’d go over and watch the Coyotes there and, you know, that’s how I got into it,” he said. “I actually played baseball and hockey growing up and I was pretty talented at both, but my main passion was always hockey.”

It looks like he made the right choice. Last year with the Zurich SC, Mathews scored 24 goals and had 22 assists in 36 games. Less than a month ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs made him the first overall pick in the draft.

When asked who was a big hockey influence on him, Matthews listed a few names that ‘Yotes fans would be familiar with.

“Guys like Shane Doan who has been there through his whole career with the Coyotes, Daniel Briere, Keith Tkachuk, I mean those are the guys that I love to watch, I’ve been pretty fortunate to get to know all three of them,” he said. “Growing up, you know, Shane Doan was one of my favorite players and today he’s still one of my favorite players.”

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