Matt Stajan’s latest comments about wanting out of Toronto have come as a shock to both the organization and the city.
“I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Stajan said. He had the look of a beaten man.
Reporters challenged his vague comments and Stajan budged for a moment, stating “[it] probably started around the fall of 2007”.
As both a journalist and a Leafs fan, I wasn’t satisfied. I decided to get in touch with Stajan to find out what really happened. After days of prying, he is finally letting me tell his story.
It was September 12, 2007.
The Leafs were nearing the end of camp, just under a week away from traveling to Edmonton to kick-start the pre-season.
Matt took the long walk down to his mailbox. It was here. NHL 08: Electronic Arts Sports’ magnum opus. Stajan mumbled something about a Staal being on the cover and made his way back up to his apartment.
His adrenaline glands were firing on all cylinders. Apparently, Matt saves his competitive edge for the virtual ice surface.
He booted up the disc, pure excitement pumping through his veins. Matt was going to be a 50 goal man this year… this was his time.
Three shifts later, Stajan scored his first goal of the season.
What happened next would eventually push him to the edge of sanity.
Something went wrong. Horribly wrong.
“That’s not right”, he thought. He rotated his plasma to get a better look at the audio cords. Everything was in its proper place.
Perhaps he had heard it wrong. He wondered if during the celebration, his own screams had affected his hearing.
Convinced that he was to blame for the miscue, he continued playing. Two periods passed before Matt got a little careless with the poke check and tripped his opponent. There it was again.
There was no mistaking this. He heard it clear as day. “Matt Stay-an”. NOT “Stage-en”.
They were using a soft “j”.
“How could they screw that up?”, he raged. Within minutes, Stajan had his agent on the phone.
“Fix this NOW”, he ordered.
A few more phone calls later and a PR rep. from EA Sports was apologizing for the mistake. They had admitted that they had never heard of Stajan and were sorry for the mispronunciation.
Matt was distraught. Though he couldn’t help but continue to play ’08. It didn’t take him long to notice that he wasn’t the only Leaf being disrespected by EA. Nik Antropov was being butchered.
“Maybe this wasn’t about him”, Stajan thought. Maybe this was something bigger.
Could this be a subtle ‘dis’ to Canada’s favourite team? A virtual slap in the face? Stajan decided to keep quiet. After all, EA had agreed to rectify the blunder in their next game.
Everything was going to be okay.
And then, NHL 09 was released.
He was still Matt Stay-an.
It was personal now.
Stajan decided to travel to EA and solve the problem once and for all. Matt would not relate the details of this trip to me, however, he left EA Studios with the understanding that a patch would be released (for the name pronunciation) and that he would be honoured with a character in their new “3 on 3 Arcade” game.
"Three on 3 NHL Arcade" was released a week ago. Matt Stajan was not a selectable character.
Nik Antropov, however, was. Apparently Nik tried a more respectful approach with his complaint and thus, was chosen for the game.
“Enough is enough”, Matt stated, obviously choked up. “I need a new team, a new city… I need to go somewhere where everybody can pronounce your name”.
When I asked Matt where that might be, he conceded that “[he] wasn’t sure”.
“Maybe Colorado… if they can get Wojtek Wolski then Matt Stajan should be a breeze”.
For Matt and his family’s sake, I sure hope so.