With this lockout going on, NHL players have lots of time to come on their old team mates radio show. I was pumped to have Ryan Jones on last week! He is a funny guy, solid player and a great addition for the community of Edmonton.
What are you up to these days? Sitting around, being bored. I am not accustomed to filling up all this free time.
Has the lockout allowed you to get out and do a lot of hunting? I am in a tree stand every day! Either in the morning or afternoon. I follow my workout schedule daily and I am skating with the U of A Bears but outside of that my daily routine is flexible. I have been hunting pretty much every day the last two months! Alberta is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and I try to take advantage of it.
You have really established yourself the last few seasons as a NHL player. Is it frustrating for this lockout to happen now with so much good momentum in your career? Yes, a little bit. I am coming off a career year. I feel like I have some good momentum going with my career but right now we are at a standstill. Not exactly sure what to do. There is always the option to play in Europe but for now I want to stay here and be a part of the community in Edmonton which is what I am doing right now. It is getting tough to keep waiting though. If the season starts and we come back, the games could start right away. I have to stay in the best shape possible.
What, if anything do you recall from the last lockout? You were in college at the time. It is weird to be going through it now. I was a college freshman during the last one and selfishly I thought the lockout would bring a lot of fans into college hockey games! I wasn’t excited for the lockout because I knew there were professional players that were no longer making a living because of the lockout. Back then I really didn’t pay any attention to what was going on. But now that I am right in the middle of one as a player it is totally different. Even the social media has changed the way the two lockouts have been reported. There are no secrets to these CBA negotiations. It is all out there for everyone to see. The social media has created a lot of CBA experts!
Why did you choose college versus the junior hockey route? In high school I was playing hockey but also other sports. My dad always told me to play whatever sports made me happy so I played a lot of soccer and volleyball. It seemed to me major junior was a full time commitment, kids moved away from home and at that time I wasn’t ready for that step. I was a home body. I developed a little late. Both my body and my hockey game took time so once I was ready the junior window had closed. I did have options for major junior for my last year of eligibility but by then it was clear college would be the better option. I would get the chance to play against older and stronger guys and I would get a free education. Not to mention the hockey was very good.
Did going to college allow you to develop at your own tempo? You knew you had four years to prepare for a pro career? Definitely, there is a large amount of practice time and a huge effort to make players stronger in all aspects, including the weight room. My junior B team never had a gym so I had very little experience in real weight training before getting to college. My first day in college they said we would be doing cleans! I said I was not exactly sure what cleans were but I am sure I will eventually get it. When I went to college I was 193lbs, when I left I was 217lbs. Players mature in college and leave as men. There are four days a week when you can really work on your hockey skill set as well.
Do you have any plans to head over to Europe and get playing? Europe is a great option to get playing. Very good hockey leagues over there. It seems like every time I tell my agent to find me a place to play, there is traction between the NHL and NHLPA. I won’t commit until the season is canceled. I am not interested in going over for three weeks. It isn’t fair to a team in Europe to bring me all the way over and then have me leave due to the NHL season starting up.
You have found a role for yourself since coming to the Oilers. What has led to your development? I have worked hard. There are pucks lying around all over the place in front of the net and that is where I go. Yes it hurts sometimes to stick in there around the net but guys like Ryan Smyth have made a career in putting those pucks in the net. I am trying to do the same as them, I don’t want to be denied in those tough areas. If you added up where all my goals were scored from last year the distances would be less than then length of the ice! Ha! But they all go up on the scoreboard as one!
How did it feel scoring a hat trick versus the Blue Jackets last year? It was very special. It is something that doesn’t happen very often. To be honest if you would have asked me when I started my NHL career if I would have scored a hat trick I would have bet you anything it wouldn’t happen! It was just one of those games. My first goal I drive the net and it goes off a skate and into the net. On my second goal, Belanger makes a nice pass, I close my eyes, shoot and it goes in. The third, Horcoff was very unselfish, passed me the puck and I put it in! That is the kind of captain Horcoff is.
Looking ahead are there areas you want to improve to increase your role on the team? I really like the role the coaches have given me the last couple of years as well as the opportunity to kill penalties I have been given. I always loved killing penalties. It is not a glamorous role but I take a lot of pride in it. I shoot the puck down the ice a lot so they might as well let me do it without it being icing! Ha! To be honest I have to continue to work on my hands. That is an area I want to improve on for sure. The rules being the way they are players can make plays without obstruction so I want to work on being able to make those plays. I would also like to add some confidence to my fighting. I get into a fight a my hair is all over the place and imam swinging at everything! I am to pretty to learn by getting beat up a few times!
What is with your long hair? God blessed me with awesome hair so I have to grow it! But to be serious I grow it for Locks of Love. I have done it twice and will continue to do this small gesture for that great cause. But when it looks this good it really isn’t that hard to do!
What is it like to sit in a tree stand with Steve MacIntyre? As you know he has a very short fuse! I am always aware when he is getting frustrated because of a lack of animals coming through. It is at those times I think he may throw me out of the stand to use me as bait! I specifically remember one time we were about to leave the tree stand after dark and a bunch of coyotes come right around and below us. I am terrified! Big old Macker starts climbing down and then I realize ‘What I am scared of?’. This big man will kill anything that comes near us!