I have a pairing and an idea for the Coyotes fic! Thanks, Tammy, for reminding me about the Briere and Gratton trade. :D
Jigga spam for myself for fic.
Q&A With J.S Giguere
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 11-10-4 with a 2.30 goals-against average
and a .916 save percentage. He ranked fifth in the NHL last season
with a 2.13 GAA and a .920 save pct., despite posting just a 20-25-6
record for a team that finished 29-42-8. Giguere spoke with
CNNSI.com's Jon A. Dolezar about his goaltending style and what his
dream finish to this season would be.
CNNSI.com: How was practice today, J.S.?
Giguere: It was good. We don't get to practice very much being out
West. Every time we go East, we never practice. So it's good to
practice a little bit. In November, I think we only had two practices
all month. It was insane.
CNNSI.com: What did you do so well last year to have a breakout year
on an ordinary team?
Giguere: I worked really hard with our goalie coach, Francois
Allaire, and we got my game to be as simple as possible. So every
time I played, I just tried to make the least amount of mistakes
possible. When you do that, you give yourself a chance to play the
best you can.
CNNSI.com: What has Francois Allaire done to help you?
Giguere: When I got here from Calgary, my game was not at its top.
What he did is he brought it back to the simplest level. Instead of
doing two or three different things every time I have a shot, we
tried to bring it down to one thing, where I'm doing the same thing
in every situation. It really helped me a lot.
CNNSI.com: Why did you get off to a slow start this season?
Giguere: I'm not sure. We had a new coach, a new system and new
players to play with. On the other hand, maybe my battle level wasn't
high enough. Sometimes when things don't go well you need to battle a
little bit more. When you battle more, you make yourself be more
lucky and you feel better about yourself. I think it's a combination
of a lot of things. I didn't think my start to the season was that
bad, even though the numbers looked bad. Technically I was playing
CNNSI.com: What did you do to turn it around after the slow start?
Giguere: It really starts in practice. You have to be positive, which
is sometimes hard to do in those situations. I try to be positive
every day. And I try to make the first save all the time. Even in
practice, that's very important. That's something that me and Frankie
focus on, is to always make the first save in every situation. And at
some point, if you keep doing good things in practice, it's going to
come to you in the game and you are going to have success.
CNNSI.com: How do you describe your style?
Giguere: It's a butterfly style, a lot like Patrick Roy. I'm not very
flashy. I try to be as simple as possible. I try to put my body in
front of the puck all the time -- that's my main concern -- and just
focus on making that first save.
CNNSI.com: Is it too easy to stereotype you guys as the butterfly
Quebec goaltenders these days?
Giguere: Yes and no. Not every goalie from Quebec plays the
butterfly, but I'd say most of us do play the same way. We've all
pretty much been to the same hockey school when we were kids.
Francois Allaire has a hockey school, and so does his brother, Benoit
Allaire. And if anybody else went to another hockey school, most
likely the guys there were teaching the same thing.
A lot of it is that we model ourselves after Patrick Roy. Being from
Quebec, he was our idol when we were kids. Everybody looked up to him
and wanted to be him. Everybody teaches the same way in Quebec, so
you see a lot of the French goalies playing that way. On the other
hand, it is a little bit of a stereotype. But we are mostly butterfly
goalies because that's what we learned when we were kids, so we kept
playing like that.
CNNSI.com: What do you think about your young Quebec contemporaries?
Giguere: I'm always excited when I'm playing against them. Most of
them are starting to have pretty good success. We are all pretty much
in the same situation. The guys who are close to my age are all
starting to be No. 1 goalies, and I think it's great. Probably once a
week I look at the stats to see where they are at, how they are
doing, and I'm pretty happy to see when they have success.
CNNSI.com: Did you grow up with any of the other guys from your draft
year like Martin Biron, Marc Denis, Jean-Sebastien Aubin or Sebastian
Giguere: Not really, but I've known them for a while now, probably
since we were 15 or 16 years old, from playing against them and
meeting them at different events. But I didn't grow up with any of
them. I did play against Denis, because he was in the same league as
CNNSI.com: Do you think your game is close to being at the level of
other elite goaltenders?
Giguere: I feel like there is a lot of improvement to be done. I can
definitely work on my game a lot. I don't know how good I can be. Am
I going to get much better or am I going stay pretty much the same?
We are going to see that with time. I'm just going to still work on
my game and make sure that I make that first save in practice.
CNNSI.com: What kind of offseason training do you do that is
Giguere: It's very similar to what the other guys do. We obviously
don't do as much upper body stuff as a forward would do. We focus a
lot on our legs. We do a lot of stability workouts to make sure that
our legs and abs are strong. We do a lot of jumping to make sure we
are quick to be able to go from one side to the other side. So a lot
of side-to-side jumps and squats to work on our legs. We have to make
sure that our legs are strong. This is one of the most important
parts of being a goaltender is that your legs have to be very strong.
CNNSI.com: How much video do you watch?
Giguere: Francois Allaire is here half the month because he's a
consultant, not a full-time coach. But whenever he is here if we have
time and aren't on the road, we probably watch video once or twice a
week. We look for all of the positive things. Sometimes we'll see
some of the negative, but we'll watch one game and look for what I
did positive on every save. It really helps me because when I do
something good, I see myself doing it and it reminds me of how I have
to do it every time.
CNNSI.com: How much of goaltending is mental?
Giguere: It's a lot mental, more than a forward or a defenseman. It's
hard to put in numbers -- you could say that it's 50 percent or 60
percent, I don't know. But if your mental game is good, you have a
much better chance to play well. I believe you need to be in top
shape to be a good goaltender and you need to have a good technique,
too. All that put together makes you a good goaltender, but the
mental part of the game is definitely a big part of it.
CNNSI.com: Does working with a sports psychologist help you?
Giguere: I've worked with some when I was younger, but I haven't
worked with any for the last three or four years. We had one in
Calgary. It definitely can help you get back on track. It's somebody
to talk to, a third party that doesn't really feel the same as going
to talk to a coach. It definitely will help you if you are struggling
pretty hard. Francois does that in a way, even though he's not a
psychologist or anything. It's great for goaltenders to have
one-on-one attention, which forwards and defensemen don't get. If I'm
struggling, he's there or if I'm playing good, he's there. It's good
to have a goalie coach, because you definitely have one-on-one
attention that is really necessary for you.
CNNSI.com: What is the design on your mask?
Giguere: It's sort of a duck with a cape going around his body. It's
kind of a mean duck, but cartoon mean. One of the designers at Koho
did it. I told them to do whatever they felt like doing and I knew
that I'd be very happy with it.
CNNSI.com: How much fun is it to be in a playoff hunt, even if it is
Giguere: It is just December, but it's fun because last year by this
time we were done. There was pretty much no way we were going to go
back to the playoff run. It makes it interesting now, because every
game is very important. It gives you a chance to stay in there. We
need to stay in there all year.
I believe it's going to be like this all year long. This playoff run
isn't going to get decided until the last week of the season. So it
keeps you on edge and it keeps the fans and everybody on edge. I
think it's going to be interesting.
CNNSI.com: What do you have to do to get more fans in the building?
Giguere: I think we just need to play the same way we are playing
right now. We obviously need to play good at home, which we've been
doing lately. I think the last two or three years have been pretty
bad in Anaheim, and I understand why the fans aren't showing up. But
after awhile things are going to start coming around. We need to earn
some respect for them to come. But once we get that, I think they are
going come and enjoy the games.
CNNSI.com: How tough is the Western Conference right now?
Giguere: It's amazing. Every team can beat every other team. It's
insane. You have no break at all. Every game night is very important
and it seems that every team is in the playoff hunt. So it is very
tough, but it makes it interesting to play every night.
CNNSI.com: And how tough is the Pacific Division?
Giguere: It's crazy, too. Our own division is just so hard to make
the playoffs. I think it's a good thing they did two or three years
ago by adding more divisional games. It makes the season much more
important. It's just so hard to get to the playoffs. And then the
playoffs are even harder. Every night is a great experience for a
young team like us, because we learn a lot from every game.
CNNSI.com: Did the success of the Angels inspire you guys in any way?
Giguere: I guess it gave us a little bit of hope. The owners are
involved now and they want us to have success. The fans never
believed before, and maybe the players never did, either. Now we know
that the owners want to win and that they are going to do whatever
possible to win. So that's great to know.
I think any team could use the Angels as an example. I don't think
they were recognized around the league as being a great team, but
they came together as a team. They played as a team and ended up
being the best in the league. So I think anybody can use them for
motivation, especially us being so close to them.
CNNSI.com: How are things different with Mike Babcock behind the
bench this season?
Giguere: He's a very high-energy guy. He wants you to work, work,
work. And I think that's great for a team. It gives us kind of a
sense of urgency out there. Everytime we play we work hard. A team
that works hard is going to have more success than any other team.
That's one of the reasons why were at where we are right now. Babcock
won't let you not work hard.
I went for a training camp for Team Canada with him when he was
coaching the world juniors team in 1997. The training camp was just
one week or something, but then I played for him in the minors for
half a season, and that was great. Personally I got along very good
with him and I really liked the way his practices went. He doesn't
really talk much to the goalies. He doesn't know much about goalies
or anything. He kind of leaves the goalies to themselves. But he
expects you to play your best every night, and that's the way you
should approach the game. He's very intense behind the bench. He
probably loses more weight sweating than we do during the games.
CNNSI.com: What would the dream script be for the rest of your season?
Giguere: The rest of the season would have us make the playoffs and
win the Stanley Cup. That would be a great Disney ending. I think
we'll start by making the playoffs and being competitive all year.
And then we'll see what this is going to bring us.
CNNSI.com: As far as personal goals, are you hoping to be a Vezina
contender, if not this year than someday?
Giguere: Not really. My goal in life is just to reach my full
potential. I don't know when that is going to happen. This year I
just want to play as good as I can every night, and we'll see what
the final result is going to be.
Kurt Sauer spam for myself for fic.
Mighty Ducks defenseman Kurt Sauer is making his case for Rookie of the Year, an honor awarded for things that you do. But the Minnesota native isn’t so shabby with the things that he says, either. Over the next few months he’ll sit down with mightyducks.com to discuss the ins and outs of an inaugural season in the NHL. On Monday, Kurt spoke about his transition into the NHL, life as a newlywed and how much Minnesota’s “got game”.
MD.com: How smooth was your transition from the WHL to the NHL?
Kurt: It started in the summer. I didn’t know exactly where I was going because I was drafted by Colorado. And it wasn’t working out. But I just had to keep working hard and basically try to get ready for wherever I was going to be. And that had been a question mark (for me). So when I signed with the Ducks it helped me because I could then focus, knowing where I was going.
MD.com: What were your first impressions of the NHL?
Kurt: When I got here, rookie camp was fine and then making the jump – it seemed a lot faster but it was still all hockey. What I mean by that is “hockey is hockey”. It’s just that in the NHL, everyone is that much quicker, that much stronger and that much better.
MD.com: Did you follow any player or team during your time in the WHL?
Kurt: Before you get here, you’re watching games on T.V. and you look at what they do, knowing that it has to be right because they’re in the NHL. So you take someone and watch all their little tricks, especially if they’ve been around awhile. I didn’t watch to see who won or lost, just to see what they did. And to get better, I might try it out in a game or practice.
MD.com: Where you intimidated coming into the NHL’s atmosphere?
Kurt: You’re always intimidated in a new situation; that’s normal. Being who I am, I just sit back and let everything happen around me. As a rookie, you don’t need to be the center of attention. (You can trust that) the guys will help you out and give you tips here and there.
MD.com: You rack up a lot of time on the ice. Were you expecting that?
Kurt: The thing is, you don’t expect anything. When I first came in, I was just shooting for the stars. And when you shoot for the stars then maybe you can hit the moon. That was the philosophy I brought into camp and its been working out well.
MD.com: Does getting that playing time make you feel as though your duty to this team is just as great as the veteran players here?
Kurt: I wouldn’t say just as much, but I do have to pull my weight. You have to do as much as you can for the team to help them win. When you do that in a game you feel good; when you don’t – win or lose – you have to thank the other guys, because you weren’t pulling your own weight.
You asked about a sense of duty; everyone has a different situation on the team and I think that where the guys put you, that’s where you are. Then, when you get on the ice, “hockey is hockey” and you just have to play the best you can.
MD.com: Who was the first person in the locker room to “reach out” to you?
Kurt: I was paired up with Carney right away and I sit right next to Fredrik Olausson. Freddy would always come and talk to me, and Rusty will always give you a few words here and there too (Ruslan walks by and winks). So I can’t say that its one particular guy. If you do something well, they tell you, if you do something wrong, they tell you. Whether I made a good or bad play they let me know.
MD.com: It’s no secret that rookies in pro sports get hazed but the hazing itself is often kept a secret. Any luck getting a story out of you?
Kurt: Nothing like that (happens here). I know from my brother that some guys in the NFL have to sing a song or something like that. Nothing bad. You do that to go along and have fun with the guys. You have to act a little silly sometimes I guess.
MD.com: You ever do anything silly to get a laugh out of one of the guys?
Kurt: I’m pretty conservative and not a guy to do that. Some guys like to be the center of attention but I basically speak when spoken to and go from there. I’m a rookie. I try to listen to what others are saying. Especially when it’s about hockey, because you can pick up so many things you never thought about.
MD.com: Being that Coach Babcock is also a rookie, do you two have a special bond because each of you knows this is a totally new experience for the other?
Kurt: Yeah, I’ve been given a lot of chances. Sometimes I think almost too many (laughs). They keep putting me on the ice and that’s a positive. When you make a mistake, you’re expected to make the adjustment, go back out and play your role. As for coach Babcock, I like him because he tells it the way it is and you want to go out there and play hard for him.
MD.com: Coming from Minnesota and spending a little time in Spokane, you had never lived in a place quite like Southern California before. Did you have any reservations or stereotypes in your mind about it here?
Kurt: Actually, up in Minnesota, not too many people go to California; they all go down to Florida. You know what I mean? It’s a little different. I knew it was going to be warm out here but its warm and sunny all the time. You don’t realize how there’s a desert out here and there’s a little smog. But the mountains are gorgeous.
MD.com: Are you an adventurous kind of guy or an outdoorsman?
Kurt: I like hunting and fishing. When you say adventurous, I don’t know if that qualifies. I don’t take many chances and usually stick to the things that I like. I like dogs. You know how a dog is – they’re just like a buddy but they don’t talk back (laughs).
MD.com: How many dogs do you have?
Kurt: Well, my wife has a dog and we’re working on getting that dog down here (to Anaheim). My dog back home, we had to put her to sleep a few weeks ago. I was back in Minessota a couple of weeks before that so it’s been a rough time. To some, it might sound silly talking about a dog that way, but they’re there for you to enjoy and you develop a connection with them. Especially when you have one for 10 years.
MD.com: Was type of dog was she?
Kurt: A Boxer named Lady.
MD.com: How long have you been married?
Kurt: I just got married this summer.
MD.com: When did you meet your wife?
Kurt: While I was playing hockey out in Spokane.
MD.com: Was she a big hockey fan?
Kurt: No, she didn’t know any hockey (smiles). So she never put me on a pedestal or anything. To her I was just a normal guy and that was good. She worked at the arena but didn’t know anything about the sport because she never watched the games.
MD.com: Being that she is from the Northwest, was she excited about you playing on the West Coast?
Kurt: It was closer to home for her and that’s exactly what she was happy about. It wasn’t like “Oh, you’re in the NHL, that’s good honey”. It was more like, “Good, my family won’t be too far away” (laughs). She liked that for sure.
MD.com: Does she enjoy watching you play?
Kurt: She likes to watch me play and is starting to like hockey a lot more. You know, it takes a little while to get to know hockey when you haven’t been around it, but she’s starting to understand it.
MD.com: With hockey demanding so much time, what are some of the things you two have had a chance to do together?
Kurt: We went hiking in Northern Idaho but while in Spokane I was always playing hockey so we really didn’t get much free time. You usually rest on your day off and don’t try to have fun. She likes the outdoors but as for fishing, she would just as soon watch the waves and catch some sun while I do all the actual fishing. Since she doesn’t like eating them she’s like, “Why should I catch them”?
MD.com: What was your favorite “game” to hunt back home?
Kurt: It was grouse. We had 160 acres back home but didn’t have any hunting dogs. If there was no snow we would bring Lady with us but otherwise we would leave her at home and just go through the brushes. We might come home with one grouse. We were bad hunters but we loved to hunt.
MD.com: So I guess duck hunting would be out of the question.
Kurt: You don’t want to be duck hunting around the Pond (laughs). My brother was into that but it’s tough because you need all your decoys and a boat and that’s a lot of work. Plus it gets expensive. But when everything is said and done though, I’ll probably go back to that sport.
The week of January 26th, Kurt will talk with mightducks.com about time well spent in the penalty box, taking notice of other rookies, and the definition of “cool” for a guy from Minnesota.
MD.com: Do feel at this point in the season, as a rookie, you are becoming an intimidating factor defensively and making people think twice about crashing the net and things like that?
Kurt: There are some games where I have to be better at that. I have to be better physically and better with the little things. If they’re going to run me I have to make sure that they don’t do it again. Those are things you learn as a rookie – that everyone in this league is 200 pounds and skates strong. And where you used to play against guys that are a buck-sixty, there’s a big difference now.
MD.com: Were there any hits or checks or collisions or confrontations up to this point in the season that stick out (no pun intended) in your mind?
Kurt: I really couldn’t tell you. There’s probably not one specific thing.
MD.com: When is it a good time to be in the penalty box and when is it a bad time?
Kurt: There never really is a good time. If you take somebody in with you, whether it is coincidental or fighting, it evens out. But whenever you put your team down- and I’ve done that – you put your team on the penalty kill. There are times you have to take one - like if a guy goes at your goalie or has a step on you during a break, something like that. Most other times are no good. I let my stick get away a couple of times and got some high sticking (calls), which is just pointless, especially when I have a guy up against the boards. One time I had position on a guy and my stick slipped up and I got called for it - I have to work on that.
MD.com: Will those types of penalties put you in Coach Babcock’s “dog house” or are those the plays where he will say, “As long as you are trying hard and making the effort you are good with me”.
Kurt: I guarantee anybody will say that going hard and getting penalized is better than just being lazy and letting a guy get a step on you because maybe you weren’t there. If you are giving 100% when you get a penalty, then just make it something you work on for next time.
MD.com: This last home stand, did anything stand out in your mind?
Kurt: The Kings game. You look at the score and it’s not something a guy like me wants to see. But for the fans it was great. With a 3-0 lead, we have to just keep building on that instead of letting them get back in it and take the lead. Then we have to come back. That’s exciting but it’s not the kind of excitement we want.
MD.com: Being a part of this Kings-Ducks rivalry for only one season…do you actually a have a full sense of the rivalry?
Kurt: Oh, definitely. It’s more intense and everyone has to step up. You’ve got their fans (versus) our fans and it’s always loud and crazy.
MD.com: Do you feed off your teammates energy during this rivalry or do you have a personal reason to get fired up for the Kings games?
Kurt: It’s cross town; a big game for everybody. And in a rivalry, everything carries over – what you did last game carries over to this one. So you “never forget”.
MD.com: What do you think of fellow rookie Stanislav Chistov? He’s headed to the NHL YoungStars game.
Kurt: He is a good player and a good guy. Just skilled. Plain skilled. It’s just a joke when you watch him. I smile sometimes when I see the moves he pulls off and how he can pull and push the puck away from a guy – just out of his reach. When someone has that much skill – there’s nothing else you can say. It’s unbelievable because he’s two years younger than me and I’m only 22.
MD.com: You see Kariya and Carney playing polar positions and see that they are both veteran leaders on this team. Can you imagine that being you and Chistov 10 years from now?
Kurt: That’s part of the dream. That’s part of what you’re going for. That’s always being a dream of mine – being that guy. But that’s eight or nine years down the road and I’m going to have to go through a lot of stuff to get to that point. I still have a lot of learning to do.
MD.com: What are your thoughts on the All Star Game and the selection process?
Kurt: I don’t know much about the selection process but when you look at the guys on the list, these guys are year-in and year-out high-end players. These are the guys scoring the points the guys and most valuable to your team; the guys who when you are a little kid, you want their (collectors) cards. It’s a lot for the fans to handle. You get the best players in the world in one place. How much does the roster change year-in and out? I don’t know. Paul Kariya, Mike Modano, you think of all the guys that are always going to be there.
MD.com: We know you’re a pretty humble guy, but do you think to yourself, “The next time in NHL history when the Ducks send a defenseman to the All Star Game, I want that guy to be me”?
Kurt: That’s what you’re working for. It’s not good enough to be on the back end playing in the NHL. At least for me it’s not. I’m trying to be better, do more things and expand on what I do so that I can be that guy. So when the coach says with one minute to play, “Get out on the ice”, I want to be that guy he is talking to. I just have to keep learning and working. And hopefully, God willing, I get to be that guy in time.
MD.com: Growing up in Minnesota, where you “the guy” back then? Describe what popular is and if that’s what you were.
Kurt: Just like any other sport, if you’re good enough the whole school comes and watches you. So they’ll know who you are. High school hockey isn’t very popular hockey in Minnesota. There are other routes to go that are better. It’s good to play in front of friends and family and that’s the atmosphere of high school hockey.
MD.com: I guess that doesn’t necessarily make you popular then?
Kurt: I don’t know. What’s popular to you? Help me out.
MD.com: In California, a stereotype of cool and popular in high school is the ultra thin, ultra tall 16-year-old quarterback with a drop top BMW wearing Versacci shades – he doesn’t even have to be the starting quarterback. His parents are on business trips every weekend and the big party is always at his house.
Kurt: (Laughing) Back in Minnesota we don’t have those things. Me and my older brother had to share a truck with 300,000 miles on it. It was a 4x4 but it was something you could do anything with. We would take it hunting and fishing and if we banged and scraped it up our dad didn’t care. People knew that truck. It sticks out, it’s rusty, the whole works.
I don’t think I was ever in style. I always took hand-me-downs from my brother. With six kids you couldn’t be in style that way. I guess being popular meant you were nice and people knew you.
MD.com: There was no stereotypical guy all the girls wanted to date?
Kurt: Oh yeah, you had to be good looking. Then all the girls would want to date you. That was the key. If you’re smart or play sports then that’s just a bonus. And having a truck, I guess that helps too.
MD.com: So you could be good looking and broke and have an old truck and that’s all it takes in Minnesota?
Kurt: Yep, that’s when you’re set.
MD.com: Did you watch the Super Bowl this past weekend?
Kurt: Yeah, I got together and hung out and watched it with some teammates.
MD.com: It’s been leaked that you were rooting for Tampa Bay. The term “Defense Wins Championships” might hold true for football, but how much do you think that applies to hockey?
Kurt: It’s true in hockey, big time. When you think of defense, you think “Goalie”. And if you’ve got a hot goalie he can carry you throughout the playoffs. And that’s what you need. Sometimes the scoring is not there, but you know what? If you don’t allow the other team to score are you going to lose? No.
MD.com: If the Oakland Raiders had won the Super Bowl that means with Los Angeles having won the last NBA Championship and the Angels the last World Series, the pressure would have then been on you guys to bring the Stanley Cup to California along with the rest of the trophies.
Kurt: It would have been a good type of pressure, for sure, having everyone win around you. But when you think of the Stanley Cup, you know it’s a long road. And 50 games into the season, there’s a lot of time left. We have a lot of time to improve on things and we still have to earn a (playoff) spot. As far as pressure, you always want to win, no matter what. The Stanley Cup is a dream and hopefully it comes true.
The week of February 9th, Kurt will talk with Mightyducks.com about the offensive aspects he hopes to one day bring to the table, stepping it up in the 3rd period, the low-down on Ducks fans and one of Hollywood’s favorite “monsters” creeping around the Pond.
MD.com: There have been a lot of one-point games lately. What’s been the difference between winning and losing those games?
Kurt: When you go into the third period, those last 20 minutes, it’s usually pretty close and it’s anybody’s game. And then there is the momentum you bring from the first two periods. But that’s just the way it is. There is not much difference in many teams when both teams work hard and everyone is healthy. When it comes down to it, it’s just whoever wants it more. And I think that’s decided the outcomes of those games.
We’ve been playing really well on the back end. I think we’re limiting the amount of goals and that says a lot about Giggy. He’s been playing great. Him stopping the puck makes our defense look good. He’s a hot goalie.
Adding Ozolinsh solidifies it all the way around and we added Keith and Rusty and Vish and Freddy. I’m a rookie looking in but I think we have been doing really well. When I look around the league and compare I think we have a good defensive core. And that’s what you need going into the playoffs, because every game is tight.
MD.com: Where were you when the trade for Ozolinsh went down?
Kurt: We were in San Jose when we heard about the trade. The thing about it is, it’s a change. Two good guys left and it’s the nature of the business. It’s change.
MD.com: Do you look forward to picking up any offensive tricks from Ozolinsh?
Kurt: You always watch that. He has a lot of skill. He’s a big guy who protects the puck well and has a good shot. For me, that’s really not my game. I didn’t make it here by being an offensive defensemen, or I’d probably still be playing high school hockey. It’s two styles of defense and it’s always good to add another style into the lineup.
MD.com: We know you’re a stay-at-home type defensemen, so does your previous answer mean you’re not concerned at all with getting offensive opportunities?
Kurt: That’s just not me. I have only one assist. If I was here for offense, I would be somewhere else, for sure. Jumping the rush is different in the NHL. You watch guys like Carney and Fredrick and Rusty, you know they see stuff that I don’t see right now. It’s not like I can’t learn it, but it’s not the strong point of my game, for sure.
MD.com: Those guys you mentioned can handle the puck really well.
Kurt: Yeah, that’s why they are on the PP (Power Play). When you’re on the PP you get points.
MD.com: We know Rusty’s not scared to take a shot.
Kurt: Yeah he’s got a shot, a good shot. I need to work on my puck handling skills, moving the puck better. There are a lot of things I need to work on. They say I’m doing well, but there is always times you look at even the stuff you do well and know you can do better. It takes a lot of adjustments and that’s all I’ve been doing this year – adjusting to this, adjusting to that.
MD.com: Is there anything that people have told you did well on and you felt like, “Yeah, I am doing well in that area.”
Kurt: Well, when I’m in he D-zone I am alright, but the thing is if you make a mistake in the D-zone the puck is in the back of the net. They can tell you how well you’re doing, but it all comes down to what’s in your head. Most of the game is getting mentally prepared.
MD.com: Do you ever wish you can get a play back or do you just move straight forward and concentrate 100% on “the next time.”
Kurt: That’s what you have to do. You always wish you could have it back. If they score you’ll say I wish I could have it back but wishing doesn’t get you anywhere.
MD.com: What do you attribute your recent string of starts to?
Kurt: It has a lot top do with match ups, especially at home. You get to pick when you’re at home. When you’re away, you throw your starters up and then the other team matches up.
MD.com: Who in the League do you match up best against?
Kurt: I don’t know. You just have to go out and play, because everybody is different. I usually get matched up against other teams’ bigger guys.
MD.com: When do your eyes light up on the ice?
Kurt: When you get a good hit, especially in the corners. Especially if you don’t feel anything and he’s down on the ice, you know its solid. Sometimes you hit a guy and it’s a standstill, but if you go through the guy, it feels good, you just can’t explain it.
MD.com: How often are guys trying to get in your head?
Kurt: Guys are always trying to get into your head. Even if you hit a guy hard, that’s getting into somebody else’s head. And they’ll try to do the same right back. They want you to hesitate for that extra second that will give them time to get to the puck. So you’re always trying to get into someone’s head, and it’s usually done physically compared to vocally.
MD.com: How’s everything going at home? We know your wife is expecting soon.
Kurt: The “babes” is doing well. We are getting ready. Actually, we’re ready but just getting organized well. Mom and dad will come to town in March. The baby is due March 4th.
MD.com: Did you cheat?
Kurt: We cheated alright. It’s a little boy. Kohl Christopher. We’re pretty much set for that. Especially for the first babes, with our situation, me being on the road a lot.
MD.com: With a baby on the way and Playoffs, does that mean your long distance bill is going up?
Kurt: My family, we stick together pretty close whether we win or lose. They just like to hear from me, whether its about hockey or my nieces or brothers, it s just normal talk.
MD.com: How’s your interaction with Ducks fans been so far?
Kurt: One day we went to Ontario Ice arena and did a fundraiser for a team who sold the most tickets. We went out and helped out with practice and it’s a good time. Especially when you have little kids.
MD.com: What about at the Pond?
Kurt: On Family Day, when you go out after practice or a game and sign some signatures, they’re all just so happy and you hear everyone yelling your name. The neat thing is when they yell, “who is that?” Then someone tells them. They have no idea who I am but once someone tells them they just start yelling my name. That’s good stuff.
MD.com: Have you been given a tour of the entire Pond, like through the front offices and met all the marketing and sales people?
Kurt: A little bit. You go through the office and you get see the people who fill the stands (for us). All we do is play hockey. They are the ones selling tickets and trying to get people over here. They do a lot of work for us and that’s great.
As far as walking around the entire Pond itself, hopefully I don’t have to because that means I’m sitting out. I don’t want to be a healthy scratch. So walking around the Pond, I can put that on hold.
MD.com: Walking where you have, have you ever taken a peek inside the Boiler Room?
Kurt: No, is it close to the Zamboni room?
MD.com: It’s between the locker rooms and the marketing office. It’s like a scene out of Nightmare on Elm Street. It’s dark and creepy.
Kurt: No (laughing), I didn’t see that, I don’t like scary movies.
MD.com: The Boiler Room is like Freddy’s old hangout in one of those movies.
Kurt: It’s a place where the machinery is that keeps the Pond going, right?
MD.com: Yeah. We’re not really superstitious around here but people have noticed when the doors to the boiler room are opened during a game the Ducks are losing. But when we’re winning the door is closed.
Kurt: Sounds like Freddy is kind of ticked off at us. When we lose he is on the hunt, huh? That’s kind of a different way for him to take out his frustrations, on a hockey team.
MD.com: Yeah, hopefully Freddy stays away at playoff time. Not Freddy Olausson, though. He can stick around (laughter).
MD.com: Well, it’s ironic how we’ll be playing Detroit in the first round, because although it almost took the whole regular season, when you finally scored your first NHL goal it was against Detroit.
Kurt: Not bad huh? A three-on-two, Sammy gave it to me and I just put the stick to it, basically.
MD.com: You don’t usually jump the rush.
Kurt: No, it’s got to be a pretty blatant two-on-two opportunity. If it’s not for sure, I’m not jumping.
MD.com: Did everyone tease you about it?
Kurt: Everyone was actually pretty good; it was kind of funny.
MD.com: That last road trip in February, even though it was a spit, it set a tone for the month of March, didn’t it (in more ways than one)?
Kurt: It’s always good to go 500 on the road. You always want to beat certain teams. You want to take care of business when business can be taken care of. Every point is that much bigger.
MD.com: Were the road trips much more difficult than being at home?
Kurt: It was a different mind set. It’s actually nice, a good change of pace.
MD.com: The dynamics of getting on planes and buses before getting to the stadium, we know you remember that being a big deal on that second-to-last road trip.
Kurt: Yeah. Actually, I didn’t even get to finish the road trip because I had “babes”. I flew back from Carolina. I started at 5 am East Coast time and got home at 11 west coast time. Then I met up with the team again in Phoenix.
MD.com: How did the team prepare you for that call (from home)? With a charter?
Kurt: No charter. It was commercial. Once I got the phone call the PR guys set me up and I was on my way.
MD.com: You were there in time for the birth?
Kurt: I was there in plenty of time. Andy McDonald picked me up from the Airport. He got me to the hospital five hours before babes was born. That was nice that he could pick me up because I got in late at night.
MD.com: Were you in the room with you wife while the baby was born?
Kurt: Yeah, I was in the room, alright!
MD.com: Did you have your own personal rebirth at that moment, knowing your son was coming into the world?
Kurt: You know, it’s crazy because you have so many emotions flooding you that you don’t know what to do. You’re smiling ear to ear but you’re also tearing up. You can’t explain it.
MD.com: After seeing her have a child, the way you look at your wife – she has to be elevated in your mind.
Kurt: I know what you mean, because it’s amazing when you think that she had been carrying around that little baby for nine months. It’s hard to fathom; he went wherever mom went. It’s overwhelming.
MD.com: How large was the baby?
Kurt: Seven pounds, fifteen ounces and he was 21 inches.
MD.com: Mom and dad were there?
Kurt: My mom came down two days later. We had help coming down the whole time so that really helped.
MD.com: A decade from now, when you look back at this year, will you thing of it as a turning point in your life?
Kurt: For sure. Getting married, being in the NHL, having my first kid. God has been blessing me the whole way.
MD.com: How much does your spirituality come into play, on and off the ice?
Kurt: It comes into play because there is no way I could control or handle this whole year. So I just give it up and He’s been taking care of me all the way.
MD.com: People think because you have a certain salary, things are going to be easy, that you can handle all of life’s problems.
Kurt: That’s more pressure on you. When you look at it, how many years can you actually play hockey? Having money makes some things easier, but I have to go away form home a lot. There are a lot of trade–offs but it is good to know you can go out and get all of the things the baby needs right away.
MD.com: Now there will be a lot of talk around your house of people “taking care”. You and your wife now have a bigger responsibility to take care of yourselves for the benefit of the baby.
Kurt: That’s big time. For me to take care of my family, I have to go to work. If I’m not going to work and bringing in money it’s going to be rough around the household. My main job is to play hockey. My wife needs me to play hockey and my baby needs me to play hockey. As far as waking up at night, my wife’s been great with that. She’s been letting me sleep through everything. I sleep pretty heavy and I think I only woke up once when the baby was crying. She’s been letting me sleep up, so that’s been unreal. Like you said, I have to be able to take care of myself so I can take care of my family, I have to go to work with energy.
MD.com: This year’ trades have brought a lot of energy to the locker room. You’ll need that energy for the playoffs.
Kurt: I’ve been in playoffs in the WHL, but never in the NHL. So it’s going to be a big change for me. When it gets to the playoffs (on any level) everything changes a little. It’s grittier. And with these trades, we’ve added guys that are going to push guys to be a little bit better and that’s what we need for the playoffs.
MD.com: Even as a rookie, did you feel a responsibility to make the new guys feel comfortable?
Kurt: That’s for sure. You want to get them as comfortable as they can so they can begin playing as well as they can. And with playoffs, you never know when you’ll get that chance again. So we have to live in the present and play for the present.