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Chance to play right away helped Bozak pick Leafs over Sens

Leafs centre Tyler Bozak is known more these days for his craftiness and his speed.

Leafs centre Tyler Bozak is known more these days for his craftiness and his speed.

But a year ago, he was making his name in the NHL for his interviewing skills.

As a highly touted forward with the University of Denver, Bozak was entertaining NHL offers while winding down his NCAA career in 2009-10.

It wasn’t easy. Balancing his studies, hockey, and his future required a set plan. After all, 27 NHL teams eventually made their way to see him between March and April of last year — a bonanza of interest that ultimately boiled down to a choice between the Leafs and Senators.

“I was meeting with GMs and whoever they (NHL teams) sent to Denver to see me, it got pretty interesting,” said Bozak, who chose the Leafs, and will face the runner-up Senators with the Leafs tonight.

The plan to handle all that interest turned into a mini questionnaire Bozak developed with agent Wade Arnott.

Like corporate heads, the two brainstormed a list of questions that would be posed to the interested suitors. It also marked a bit of a role reversal — normally, NHL teams interview players, as is the case with the annual combines camp for top-rated junior prospects.

“Wade helped me with the list. It was just a bunch of little questions and it helped us draw up our own list of pros and cons,” Bozak said.

That process wrapped up in early April 2009, at the conclusion of the collegiate hockey season. Over the next two weeks, Bozak came up with his decision, which eventually became the Leafs.

The Leafs certainly painted an attractive picture for Bozak — an opportunity to play in the NHL immediately. Comparatively, Ottawa was much deeper at centre than the Leafs, with Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher commanding the position on the Senators top two lines.

Bozak said opportunity played a role in his decision, but he also relied heavily on his list of pros and cons drawn out of the interview process.

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