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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Cooper Marody Looking to Breakout in Hockey and Music

Cooper Marody will turn 23 on December 20th and where he will celebrate his birthday is undetermined. He could be in his second season in Bakersfield, or he could a member of the Edmonton Oilers. Marody had an excellent rookie season with the Condors, scoring 19 goal and 64 points in 58 games. He also skated in six games with the Oilers, and he is determined to not only play more games with the Oilers, but to be an impact player.

But Marody isn’t only focused on hockey. He loves music and he released his first single, Behind Me, last month.

Marody believes his songwriting and singing helps him be a better hockey player. During our 15 minute conversation yesterday on my radio show on TSN 1260, it was apparent Marody believes he is prepared to be an NHL player. He wants to be a top-nine player and right now there is an opening at the third line centre position. (The Oilers and Derick Brassard do not have a contract as of last night. They are talking and hopeful, but other teams are still in the mix and Oilers aren’t the favourite, I’m told.)

Whether Brassard signs or not, Marody will come to training camp and plans on forcing head coach Dave Tippett to make a tough decision. It is the correct approach. Come to camp, play well, get noticed and force the head coach to keep you.

Marody achieved a main goal in his music life, releasing a song, and now his focus is on becoming a regular NHL player.

Jason Gregor: Congratulations on the release of your first single, Behind Me.

Cooper Marody: Thank you, I really appreciate that. It’s something I really worked hard on, was excited about and have heard a lot of great things thus far.

Gregor: How long does it take to get a song written, produced and finally released?

Marody: Well I would say the writing of it was pretty quick, to be honest. Maybe an hour or two as far as the writing. But the production and all of that stuff to get it ready takes a lot longer. Probably ten, twelve hours overall.

This summer I would work out Monday to Friday and Friday after my workout and skate I would fly out to Nashville. I have friends and producers that I stay with and we work on the music and what not. So it was a very productive summer that’s for sure (laughs).

Gregor: That’s outstanding. In the past you talked about how music is a really good outlet for you; you’re not just a hockey player. When you’re thinking about music it takes your mind away from hockey and sports, which can be a good thing. You’ve been mixing in training and going to Nashville this summer. You’d workout Monday to Friday and then go to Nashville for the weekend, and when you returned home Monday did you find you were more excited and ready to work out again?

Marody: Absolutely. I know a lot of guys, they work out Monday through Friday during the week and then they choose to do whatever things they do on the weekend. For me when I’m going out there (Nashville) I’m not going out, I’m not drinking alcohol, I’m not staying up late. I’m waking up at a good decent time, I’m getting good meals in me, and then working on music in the studio and going to bed at ten, eleven o’clock every night in the summer, getting a full eight, nine hours of sleep.

So, it’s something that I really enjoy doing and it not only, like you alluded to before, it not only helps me musically, but it helps me to be such a better hockey player having that routine and having something to take my mind other places.

If you focus on hockey and worry about hockey 24/7 you’re going to show up to the rink and be worried, be nervous. Music has helped me to free my mind and to love going to the rink even more because it reminds me that it’s not just a job, it’s something that I love to do and once I’ve been able to grasp that, I’ve never had more success in hockey and have never felt better going to the rink every day.

Gregor: Do you have any other songs in the works now?

Marody: Yes I do. I have a couple which are done or really close to being done. I’m going to wait until next summer to release things.

I’m really feeling in hockey mode right now as far as getting focused for camp, and like I said I’ve been working hard all summer, but you can kind of shift your mind to really getting ready for hockey and I’m really looking forward to it.

HOCKEY and SPEED…

Gregor: Switching gears to hockey, I’m sure you look at the depth chart and there is a major opportunity in Edmonton at the third line centre spot.  You had an outstanding rookie season, one of the best rookie season in the last decade in the American League, 64 points in 58 games. I’ve read some scouting reports and online state Cooper Marody is smart enough to play in the league. The one knock was maybe your quickness in small areas needs to improve to be a NHL centre. Did the organization say anything like that to you in your exit meetings?

Marody: Not really anything crazy like that. I hear that a lot. The media likes to talk about certain things and one guy says something and then nobody has seen me play and then they focus on that and say ‘Oh that’s what’s going to keep him down’.

For me, I don’t see that being an issue. There are a lot of players in the NHL that fly around the ice, but I’m more of a thinker and there is no wasted strides, no wasted movements. I know the NHL is another step but you can’t point to one time where my speed or quickness has prevented me from making a play, or getting to a puck, or winning a battle in the American League all year. I’ve skated with NHL guys all summer, I don’t see that being an issue.

But that being said, I’m working on my game, every single aspect to try and be better. If it’s on ice, if it’s watching video, and watching the best players in the world with my coach that I’ve worked with since I was a JV hockey player in high school. He’s now reached the NHL ranks, he’s a coach for the Red Wings but I’ve been working with him in the summers as a good friend and he’s always been a good mentor to me.

Many are going to say that there is an issue (with my game), and for my whole life I’ve never been a height guy. I’ve never been a guy that people said, ‘This guy is going to be a top-six player’, and that’s something I think that I can do.

I don’t just want to just make the team as a thirteenth forward. I want to be a top-six, top-nine player and I know that I can do that. It’s just about proving that to the world. So, it was a big summer for me not only in the weight room, but on ice as well. I’m just looking forward to proving myself.

Gregor: I love that attitude and it’s so true. Not everybody is going to skate like Connor McDavid. There are a lot of guys who have had a hall of fame careers without being the fastest player on the ice.

Marody: Absolutely. Yeah I grew up watching Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg my whole life and living in Detroit and those players, they’re not only going to beat you with their speed, but they’re smarter than you, they manipulate their stick, the way that they skate. People say, ‘Cooper has got to work on his speed,’ but the stuff that I work on every single time I go to the rink in the summer, my edges, my weight shifts to manipulate the defenders and that’s something that Datsuyk and Zetterberg did that I studied my entire life.

So, like you said, and it was perfect, everybody in Edmonton sees Connor playing and how he plays the game, and it’s something that’s phenomenal to watch and he’s the best player in the world in my eyes, but not everybody has to play the game specifically like that. And that’s something that I’m never going to be, a Connor McDavid type player, but that’s OK.

Gregor:  You had an excellent rookie year in the AHL and you have arguably just as much if not more success there than you did in Michigan. What was the biggest challenge early on for you, because you really put up huge numbers in the second half of the American League?

Marody: I expected the players were going to be bigger, the game is going to be faster but at the end of the day, it’s the same game. I grew up my whole life and something that’s really big for me is just striding the game at each level. The way that most elite players play the game, the way they think the game. And once you get to the higher levels, the NHL level players think the game so well. You have to think steps ahead, you have to be skilled and that’s something that I think myself, it translates really well to the highest levels.

There are a lot of players that you see in college who are a little bit faster than everybody in college, a little bit of a harder shot than everyone else and they can get away with being over a point per game, but they get to the NHL, everybody is fast, everybody is skilled, everybody can shoot. So how are you going to separate yourself? And that’s something that I’ve alluded to before, I think that my game translates really well. I can think the game at a high level, I can make plays at a high level, and I study the best players in the world always. And that’s something that I’ve always had confidence in myself and given the right opportunity that I will earn this year, I know I can do great things.

WIN FACEOFFS…

Gregor: Cooper, what about faceoffs? The Oilers are desperate for anybody who can win faceoffs. How do you feel you match up in the faceoff circle?

Marody: Yeah, I worked really hard throughout the season. I kind of struggled early on because guys are stronger. You’re playing against grown men, you’re winning faceoffs against grown men. And Luke Esposito last year in Bakersfield, he’s a really good faceoff guy and we spent so much time at the end of the season and during playoff time working on faceoffs every single day in practice. The coaches were amazing helping me with that and it was something that I had so much success playing in the playoffs with faceoffs.

I think that is when the games get tougher and people get harder on you and what not. I had the most success in faceoffs and I give the credit to working on faceoffs with Luke Esposito, Tyler Vesel, and the coaching staff dropping pucks for me. It was something I worked on a lot this summer as well.

Gregor: When you work on faceoffs, what do you do specially to hopefully improve?

Marody: Coming up with a plan. A lot of times you’ve got to, if I’m taking a draw on the right faceoff dot in the offensive zone and I’m going against a righty, I know what he’s trying to do and what I have to do to beat it. So each faceoff dot you have a different approach based upon your prior history against that person, what hand they are and at what point of the game we are at on the ice.

Having a plan is so important to me and something that helped because you kind of go on there and say I’m just going to take it this way, this way. It worked against this team, it worked against this guy, so it’s going to work against everybody. But, having a detailed plan of each faceoff dot, each team you’re playing against, it’s something that really helped me.

And there’s also little physical things that you can do to manipulate the defender, to block their stick from putting your skate out so their stick can’t get in to get the puck. So many things like that, but I owe my success to my teammates and to the coaching staff in Bakersfield.

Gregor: Have you had a conversation with Dave Tippett?

Marody: I have not no, I’m looking forward to meeting him at camp though.

Gregor: You were up in Edmonton for six games and you didn’t play a ton but even in that time, what did you learn in those six games that you were able to take back with you to the American League or even in the summer, that’s going to make you be a better player this coming season?

Marody: I think the biggest thing is understanding what it’s like when you get into the games and situations like that. Being in the games, the practice, I left from those experiences saying ‘You’ve got this Cooper, you can do this.’ And it’s all about continuing to build my game, myself as a person and I know that I can be a good player in this league. And like I said before, I don’t want to just be a 13th or 14th forward and maybe play four years. I want to be a top-six player in the NHL and that’s something that I know that I can do, and I’m going to continue to work on that every day.

Gregor: Self-confidence and belief in yourself, whether you’re a musician, an athlete, or in whatever you do, if you don’t have it, it’s going to be difficult to reach your goals. Are you a goal setter, do you write down goals, do you visualize it, what’s your approach with goals?

Marody: I think early in my career when I was 16 years old I went into the season saying, ‘Cooper, I want you to get 25 goals and 50 assists and then that will set you up well.’ And it never worked out like that because the first five games I had one point. First ten games I had four points. I ended up having a great year that year, but hockey is so many ups and downs, there are so many unknowns. Now the goals I set for myself is that I’m going to be the best player that I can be each day. I’m going to eat the best way I can each day, I’m going to hydrate the best way that I can each day and the rest will take care of itself.

I put in the effort in the weight room, I put the effort on the ice training, I put the effort in my diet, I know that it’s inevitable for me to succeed, based upon my work ethic and the tools that I’ve been blessed with and that’s just something that I try to do each day. You can’t set specific goals. All you can do is try to be the best person and the best player and the best leader you can be for the Edmonton Oilers and the rest will take care of itself. So that’s my approach.

Gregor: Was there one skill element about your game that you wanted to refine this summer?

Marody: Yeah, I think the big thing for me this summer was: typically, I like to be a pass first guy; I try not to be selfish out there. I’m always looking for a play. This year, I had 19 goals in the American League in 58 games, and I want to be a 20-goal scorer in the NHL. So watching the way that Auston Mathews comes down and his stick starts out outside of his body and he pulls the puck in to shoot it, to manipulate where the goalies eyes are, and where he (the goalie) thinks the pucks are coming from.

Shooting was big for me this summer. I wanted to really make that an elite part of my game. It’s been years in the makings, but I had a big emphasis this year on just ripping the puck, on knowing when to shoot the puck, and that. Shooting was a major emphasis as well as continuing the skating and all of the skills. There is so much to it this summer.

Gregor: Cooper it sounds like you had a very productive summer as a hockey player, and as a musician with the release of your first album which is available on iTunes or Spotify. The title of the song is Behind Me. Good luck with your music and we’ll see you at rookie camp.

Marody: I will be there. Awesome. Thank you so much for having me on.

WRAP UP…

He has the right attitude and seems very comfortable in who he is as a person. He has found the right balance between hockey and music, and it is interesting how his focus on music makes him appreciate hockey more.

I’ve said all summer, he is my most intriguing wildcard heading into training camp. He had an outstanding season in Bakersfield and the Condors really missed him in the second round of the playoffs. He was a difference maker at the AHL level, and I think he will get a long look in training camp.

Right now the third line centre job is wide open. If Brassard does sign that changes things somewhat, but Marody is still someone I see as having a legit shot to make the team. I love his attitude about his abilities as a player. He isn’t a speedster, but doesn’t see his skating as an issue.

He might not make the team out of training camp, but I expect Marody will be a regular member of the Edmonton Oilers in the near future, and the AHL will be behind him.

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  • billsbills

    It’s been so long since the Oilers were talked about in terms of AHL depth and talent. Nice to see, if they can sort out the next season or two the team could be good for a long time.

  • OilCan2

    Cooper had a good year with the Condors. They missed him a lot in the playoffs. He really seems to embrace thinking the game and covering all the corners to belong in the NHL. Having guys like him contribute will be HUGE for the Oilers this year.

  • Synthesis

    “The media likes to talk about certain things and one guy says something and then nobody has seen me play and then they focus on that and say ‘Oh that’s what’s going to keep him down’.”

    So so so true.
    “branded by ignorance” should be his next single.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Hadn’t had a chance to listen to the interview yet but I had heard that is was very good one and, now, after reading it, I agree.

    I watched 5 Michigan games after we acquired Cooper and was pleasantly surprised with his skill, I didn’t expect it. Since then, I became a fan.

    I watched over 50 Condors’ games last year and Cooper was the driver of that top line – he was a posession beast.

    Will it translate to the NHL? Who knows? Top 6 may be a stretch but I sure am rooting for him to win that 3C job over Khaira and Haas. It would sure help roster construction.

    Even Khaira/Marody/Gagner as a “4th line” looks OK if they do end up signing Brassard to play between Granlund and Archibald (although I don’t think that signing will happen).

  • Bond 0097

    I’m cheering hard for Cooper as well as Benson and Currie, these are our own young guys that we have developed. I think it’s high time our team starts being made up of actual draft and develop in your own system players, that’s how you become a Championship team

  • Ko-D

    Fan of Cooper, love that he is into music and has other strong passions.

    Had a listen to his latest track. It’s medium/bad, nothing original, unique or exceptional to add to music. Sounds like a bad cover of a top 40 song from 3 years ago. Hope you keep at the music game though!

    Hope Cooper can be a top 9 play this year. We desperately need some players to advance to the NHL and exceed expectations. He has the potential.

    • NickL89

      I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who turned the song off early… I hope he’s a good contributor to this team but man that song sounds like every other “country”(Pop) song these days!