You ended last season with the Wolves and now you’re back. How does it feel?
It’s great! I was traded last year from the Peoria Rivermen to Chicago for the last bit of the season as the Wolves were trying to make the playoffs. I loved it there and everything, and I knew Wendell (Young) liked me. I had heard St. Louis would probably be partnering with Chicago, so I was hopeful I’d get a chance to come back and Wendell told me in April we’d be talking. It’s just great all around.
How does Chicago differ from other cities you’ve played in?
Well, first off it’s a really great place to play hockey. Coming from Peoria, which was a town I liked a lot, you immediately see how many more fans are at the game, which is cool. And you’re treated really well. I’m from a small town (Westlock, Alberta) and so Chicago being this really big, beautiful city is quite an experience. It’s a little different in certain ways, but the fans are so supportive and the atmosphere you’re playing in is just incredible.
What were you up to this summer?
This summer I was really focused on working on my game and trying to get a little quicker. I’m not the biggest guy (6 foot, 190 pounds), but I was doing a little more strength training trying to bulk up, but still keeping the quickness. Skating was another thing. Defensemen have to be good skaters, so you have to keep improving on that all the time. I really want to contribute more this season as well, so my goal was to work on my overall game and hopefully I’ll ultimately improve on how I’m contributing offensively.
Have you had a chance to meet the Wolves coaches ahead of camp later this month?
Not yet, but I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about them. Going into camp it’s good to have an idea of who you’re going to be working with. As far as camp, my philosophy is that nothing is guaranteed, so you just have to go into every camp and do your best and just see what comes of it. I know in Chicago I’m going to be playing in whatever role they want me to play. I’m going to play hard, and that’s the bottom line. We want to be a contending team and we will be.
You started in the American League back in 2009 with the Syracuse Crunch. What’s the biggest improvement you’ve made between then and now?
Biggest improvement is my sense of the game. Before, when I came into the league, I didn’t really know what to expect. Maybe I was a little too gung-ho offensively. It’s a big jump to the AHL and guys can score. If you give them a little opportunity to score, they absolutely will. So I had a little trouble with that at the get-go, but I’ve improved and I’m a lot better at that now. Obviously, you improve on many things, from your quickness and moving the puck to stickhandling. It’s all the little things that really add up.