I authored an earlier article dealing with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s drafting of Sheldon Keefe in this summers draft. In that article I mentioned that there were a few rumors swirling around Sheldon that had affected his draft position. I also pointed out that most, if not all, of those rumors had been deemed by the Lightning’s management as either false or not worthy of worrying about. They decided to take a chance on the young Mr. Keefe and have not been disappointed so far. Here is a short interview I had with Sheldon during the first week of training camp.
RH – Sheldon, I have to ask you about the draft and some of the things that were said about you before it. I know that it’s now been proven the rumors surrounding you and Mr.Frost were inaccurate and you would rather put that whole fiasco behind you, so I won’t ask you about him. I would like to know though what was your reaction to dropping so far in the draft.
SK - Well, I had a felling that it might happen. I just didn’t know how far I would move down. I was surprised that I didn’t go until the second round though. The closer it got to the end of the first round the more emotions I had. At first I was kind of mad at dropping, even though I knew I might. Then I got to thinking that the farther in the round it got, the better team I was going to. When the round was over and I was still sitting there, I really didn’t know to think. My anger turned to scared. I didn’t know what to think. I had heard that Tampa might be interested in me.
RH - Can or will you use your draft position as inspiration to show the other teams something?
SK - I don’t think that I need something like that to get me going. I love to play. I feel that I put my best effort on the ice every night. I’m sure that it will be in the back of my mind though. I don’t think I have a point to prove. I’m don’t feel resentment for what happened. I just want to play. Tampa got me and I’m going to do everything I can to help them win hockey games. I don’t view it as much of the other teams loss but the Lightning’s gain.
RH - Once the draft was over and you had time to reflect on it, did you feel that maybe coming to a young, rebuilding team like Tampa might actually be a bonus?
SK - Yes and no. I know Tampa is rebuilding and that there may be a better chance for me to crack the lineup here than with some other teams, but that’s not my decision and I think of it that way. I just have to put on whatever sweater I’m given and do my best for that team. That’s all I can do. They are still an NHL team. There is still a lot of talent on that team. They may not have played well lately but I’ve got to work very hard regardless.
RH - What would you like to achieve during training camp? What do you actually expect to happen?
SK - Obviously I’d like to make the team, but realistically I just want to have a good camp and show the team what I can bring to them.
RH - If you are sent back to Barrie, will that be a disappointment?
SK - No, not at all. Like I said, this is the NHL. Regardless of their record they have some very good players here. I know that it will be tough and all I can do is try my hardest. I believe that if I do everything that I can do, that the team will do whats best for me. I have to trust them.
RH - What do you feel is the strongest part of your game? The weakest?
SK - Man, I don’t know. I’d have to say my mental game is my strongest. I believe in myself and I think that allows me to do alot of the things that i want to do on the ice. As far as the weakest……. I suppose patience. Sometimes I get on myself to hard. I tend to get on a roll and try to do more and more and lose sight of my abilities. I don’t think I do it as much as I used to though.
RH - I’ve heard that during the Hull tournament you were all told to show something. Do you think that you did?
SK - I think so. I feel like I had a pretty good week there. We were playing a little bit of the new system and it was a little different than some of us were used to, but I played well. I thought that I was able to do most of things that I wanted.
RH - G.M. Rick Dudley has said that he feels you have alot of heart. He also said that you know where you want to go on the ice and do whatever it takes to get there. Comment on those statements.
SK - Well, anytime the guy who signs your contracts say good things about you it’s nice. I guess what he means by heart is what i was calling my mental game. I know that I can make things happen. I also know that I am the only one who can determine wether I do them or not. I’m not cocky. I don’t think I’m the greatest or I can do anything, but I know what I can do and know that if I really want it to get done that nobody can stop me. I want to determine what my perfromance is each time on the ice. I refuse to let an opposition player to determine it.
In talking with Sheldon I can confirm that he is confident but not cocky. He just wants to win. He has tremendous focus. He’s somewhat of a pitbull. Once he gets a lock on something, he doesn’t let go. Rick Dudley said that Keefe is a player that the fans in Tampa Bay are going to love to watch. He has alot of skill, and the grit and determination to let it show. He played very well in camp, but was obvious that he couldn’t quite crack the lineup yet. He has been sent back to Barrie for one more year. Look for Sheldon Keefe to wear a Lightning sweater soon.