blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: Michael Grabner Interview - 2011 NHL Awards

Friday, July 22, 2011

Michael Grabner Interview - 2011 NHL Awards

Last month we caught up with New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner at the 2011 NHL Awards in Las Vegas to discuss being traded by the Canucks, waived by the Panthers and nominated for the Calder Trophy all during a 10 month span. These are his stories.

Q: What memories do you have of your time with the Vancouver Canucks?
A: Good memories. I was drafted by Vancouver in the first round. I had some great years there with a lot of good people. And my time in Winnipeg, I’ll always remember we went to a finals there. The first goal I scored in Vancouver was my first NHL goal. I got my first playoff goal there too. It’s a time I’ll always remember. I’m grateful for what they did for me. Being traded is part of the job so I have no hard feelings. You just move on.

Q: How did you find out that you were being traded? Had that been discussed as a possibility?
A: It was during the summer and I was back home. My agent called me and I knew they wanted to get some defensemen so they’d be stronger on defense. It’s like I said, it’s part of the job. I didn’t have any hard feelings. I just tried to get ready for training camp in Florida.

Q: What happened in Florida?
A: I felt good coming into training camp. I felt I was in good shape. I just had a poor showing in the preseason and didn’t play my game. I didn’t do what I had to do. It’s my own fault. I should have played better. I didn’t really play my game. I got away from it. When I got picked up by the Islanders, I tried not to look back and just give it all I have.

Q: Talk about the struggles of the young and talented Islanders.
A: Yeah, they struggled at the beginning of the season. But from December on, we were pretty high up there in points. So I think it was a good experience for us to live through the ups and downs we had. We started to play some solid hockey towards the end of the season. Now we need to build from that and take a step forward, not a step back.

Q: What was the biggest difference for you between the Islanders, Panthers and Canucks? Was it just the opportunity to get playing time?
A: Yeah, Vancouver had a stacked team. We had some injuries in New York and that gave me the opportunity to get out there, get ice time, start to develop my game and get everyone used to me. After December I started playing pretty good and just tried to keep on going.

Q: Did you watch the Canucks during their playoff run this year?
A: Yeah, I watched most of their playoff games. I watched the Finals a lot. It was a lot of good games they had. They just came up a little bit short.

Q: Do you keep in touch with any Canucks?
A: Yeah, I texted Luongo a couple of times, Bieksa, I saw Kesler at the All-Star Game. I was there for four years at training camp and stuff so you get to know them pretty good. All the guys are pretty good. They were good teammates.

Q: What did you say to Luongo when you texted him?
A: I just told him after the Chicago series, after they finally got past them, just to keep on going. He’s a great goalie and he’s really competitive.

Q: Do you train with anyone in the summer?
A: No, I just train back home. I usually come back early and go to Spokane where my girlfriend’s from and train there. Vanek and I are the only NHL players from my home town and I think he trains over here.

Many thanks to Michael for speaking with us. Best of luck next season.