If you haven't heard, Steven Stamkos is set to be a free agent this summer. Which means your team has a chance to sign a bonafide top line center. This also means if you're a Toronto Maple Leafs fan you have the biggest hard on right now, seeing as they haven't had a guy that was even close to be a first line centermen since Mats Sundin. But does Stamkos even want to play for the Leafs? He's Steven Stamkos after all. And you're, well, terrible.
Lucky for you Toronto, I am here to help. I've wooed countless people. Girls on dates. Employers at job interviews. Arby's fast food workers to give me extra sauce for a sandwich. My incredible success is evident. As long as you overlook my crippling loneliness, only semi-employment, and perpetual bowel movements (I did succeed in wooing the Arby's employee for extra sauce but that obviously was a mistake). So let's get you ready to sweep Stamkos off his skates before he realizes he's making a terrible mistake.
STEP 1: Prep!
Doing a little research into who you are wooing is very important. Find out what their interests are. It makes conversing very easy then. Like, where they are from. But for god's sake don't show up with a picture of Stamkos when he was nine playing hockey in Ontario. Why would you do that? He's aware of where he played hockey as a kid. THAT WAS HIM. You look like a damn creep who stalked his Facebook and printed out baby pictures of him.
STEP 2: Location location location
This ties in with preparation. What does Stamkos like to eat? What does he not like to eat? Does he love mayonnaise like Sidney Crosby? Does he hate having to eat box like Jamie Benn? Put him at ease with somewhere he is comfortable and enjoying himself. I suggest Arby's. Everyone loves Arby's, and it makes the end of the night easy. Of course they have to go and can't hang out more or "chill". Their colon is collapsing as fast and unexpectedly as Building 7.
STEP 3: Ask questions
An old approach that always works. Get Stamkos to talk about himself. Ask him about everything. It makes you seem interested. More importantly it may get you from having to talk about the state of the Maple Leafs. The less you talk about that, the better. As soon as he starts asking about goaltending or defense you're in deep doo-doo.
STEP 4: Less history, more mystery
Do you really think Stamkos wants to talk about the Tampa Bay Lightning? That's probably why he wants out so bad. He clearly hates them and it's been a toxic relationship for years. Don't make him hash that out. Even worse, he may start thinking about the good times they did have. He could wind up wanting to go back to them, overlooking how awful it has been for him there. And for all that is holy don't get into your history with past free agents. Sitting around talking about your past with Tim Connolly or David Clarkson is a sure way for Stamkos to bail on you.
STEP 5: Be honest
Lying is a terrible approach. Don't start touting how great a leader Dion Phaneuf is. Don't brag that Mike Babcock has resurrected the franchise. Don't say Lou Lamoriello doesn't smell like an onion. We know he does. Everyone knows. Stamkos will likely pick out a lie and won't want anything to do with you afterwards. Even at best, he believes your lies and then realizes immediately you were full of shit and that February in Toronto isn't better than Florida's winters. I'm not saying disclose everything. He doesn't have to know about the crazy, batshit, sociopathic, irrational, thumb sucking bunch of degenerates you call "hockey media" in Toronto.
STEP 6: Netflix
Aziz Ansari's show is really good.
The Kings played a really un-Kings like game of hockey in Montreal. They sort of do this through every swing into eastern Canada. They folded faster defensively than a broken lawn chair in Ottawa. They played a defensive shell game of hockey in Montreal. God knows what we are gonna see with Toronto. Last time out I think the Leafs ran a Corsi train over the Kings, yet the Kings won. It was the exact opposite of what I was expecting.
Prediction: Stamkos receives a call from a friend while out at Tim Horton's with Brendan Shanahan. He never comes back. Ryan O'Reilly plows into the place with his truck again. Shanahan, unsure of what to do with his "FIFTY YEAR - KAZILLION DOLLAR PLEASE HELP US" crudely written napkin gives it to him. The police agree it is a tougher punishment than prison. Kings lose 2-0.