The average hockey fan is only going to sit down on their couch, turn on the game, watch the game, and be off with the rest of their night. Some of us take it to the next the level and look into the team a little more.
Maybe you’re interested in what the players have to say before and after the games? If so, you’ve probably come across some pretty boring Youtube videos of players saying the same thing over and over:
Q: What does the team need to do to have success ahead of tonight’s game?
A: Well (insert NHL team name here) has a bunch of good players. We just have to stick to the system and do the right things.
Q: You guys have struggled to out of the gate lately, what can you do to make sure that doesn't happen?
A: It’s all about being prepared and starting on time. We have our player meets, and we know what we have ahead of us tonight. Getting pucks in deep and working hard on the forecheck is going to be our focus and hopefully, we can get a lucky bounce go our way.
You get the point. It happens on every team, and sadly it’s just the nature of the sport. The next time you watch William Nylander’s interviews, I encourage you to count how many times he says, “fun.”
Nazem Kadri will have the occasional engaging quote, but he engages in the same cliches more often than not. There’s only one player on the Leafs who is actually pleasant to listen to: Connor Carrick.
Here are a few examples of Carrick’s answers to questions after practices or game:
I think we’ve got a talented team and a lot of guys that are good on both sides of the puck. A lot of guys that bring different things. It’s all about that secret sauce, who can get gelling the quickest and for the longest period of time.
October 16th Practice - Thoughts on the perks of having a quiet game as a defenceman
Sometimes the d-man, unless you’re playing that bona-fide role where you’re on the power-play and you’re getting a tone of touches, a good quiet efficient game is a good one. It’s kinda like golf that way, take your pars and go home.
October 31st Practice - In response to being asked on how the Leafs can improve in the defensive zone to breakout properly
I think it’s all encompassing. You have gotta be stronger up the ice so they’re not coming with as many numbers and they’re not as excited. You see certain guys when they know it’s a 50-50 puck or they can get there and break up a play they kinda get that extra juice. When you see a guy get a breakaway kind of thing or say Hymes chasing down an icing. Certain guys get their legs and when a team is able to get on the hunt, make a clean dump, go in unscathed, start flying around, forecheckers feel good about themselves. So the fewer times they can enter clean and dump it in and you can break out on the first time and maintain o-zone and then you’re tired, you’re not breaking out as often that way.
Carrick has also done that thing when a coach ‘forgets’ the name of a key player on the other team.
Paul Hendrick: Comment on the club’s ability to compete after a first period where maybe you thought you deserved better, but we’re up by two.
Carrick: The power-play goal was a little funky, and then – who scored the first one? That breakaway?
Carrick: Skilled player getting open, made a nice play
It will be a long time before a decision like that comes for Carrick considering he’s only 23. However, if there were anyone on the Leafs right now who I thought would become a coach, it would be him. There are still a few things he needs to decide one once his transition into the coaching world comes. In particular, picking a scowl.
When things aren't going well, you need to have a way to show how upset you are without being overly expressive. I would suggest either Mike Babcock’s or my personal favourite, Bruce Boudreau.
Actually, the Jake Gardiner facepalm could work too.
I’d be lying if I said I am the first to have this belief, but if Carrick does become a coach one day, it’ll be nice to have this in the archives somewhere.