This week’s interview is with Saskatchewan Shockers GM Cooper Matthews.
SHL Digest: This week, we’re talking with the GM of the Saskatchewan Shockers, Cooper Matthews. Cooper, thanks for finding time to talk to us.
Cooper Matthews: Sure thing. It’s nice to talk with you!
SHLD: It must be a busy time for you, with the trading deadline coming up next week. Are you getting any sleep?
CM: (laughs) A little bit, yeah. Honestly, being a GM is demanding any time of year, but especially so around the deadline. I’m spending more time with the rest of the front office than I am with my family now.
SHLD: So, I assume the Shockers are sellers going into the deadline.
CM: Yeah, definitely. I’m not delusional enough to think we’re going to catch Michigan or Anchorage.
SHLD: So what are your priorities when you’re considering trades?
CM: Honestly, I wouldn’t expect any blockbusters from us this season. We’re not looking to deal our core young players. Guys like Zeke Zagurski and Troy Chamberlain, we’re not listening on them. But we have a number of other players that might be useful to a contender, and we’re certainly willing to listen if we see a chance to make us better in the long term.
SHLD: And what would you be looking for in return?
CM: Why, are you planning to make an offer? (laughs) No, I think we’re looking for the same thing every developing team is: picks and prospects.
SHLD: Let’s switch gears from the deadline for a bit. Even though you’re not competing this year, you’ve obviously made huge strides compared to last season. By the halfway point of the year, you’d already won more games than you did all last season. Would you consider this a successful season?
CM: I’d say that we’re definitely moving in the right direction. Maybe even a bit ahead of schedule. Troy has really been a tremendous jolt to our offense; he’s taken on the scoring load in a way that’s really impressive for a rookie. We’ve got Wyatt Barnes, who’s done a lockdown job on the blue line and scoring a bit too. And Zeke’s doing a great job in the crease, and keeping us in a lot of games even when the offense struggles. We’re not contenders today, but we’re building a group that can be contenders down the line.
SHLD: Definitely sounds like you’re feeling good about the season!
CM: I mean, it hasn’t been all good. Kazoo Night was kind of a low point. But overall, yeah. I feel good!
SHLD: You’re the youngest GM in the SHL, only 31 years old. Do you think that makes your job any more difficult?
CM: No, not really. I think at first, some of the other GMs thought that I was just some kid that they could take advantage of. But once I started making some shrewd trades and picking up some guys in the draft, they started to respect me.
SHLD: You really had to earn it, huh?
CM: Well, that’s the way it is in this game. Respect and winning, you don’t just get handed to them. Whatever you get in this game, you have to earn it.
SHLD: Well, we should let you get back to your trade talks. Good luck!
CM: Thanks! Less than a week until I can get a full night’s sleep again.