Q&A with James DeLory

By Holly Gunning

An unsigned draft pick of the San Jose Sharks, James DeLory signed with the Florida Panthers this summer after a four-year career with the OHL Oshawa Generals. 

At 6’5 he has a size advantage, and in his line of work, enforcement, being left-handed helps to unsettle his opponent as well. But he’ll be the first to tell you that his skating needs to improve. 

DeLory got a late start on his rookie pro season, thanks to a concussion suffered in a Rochester Americans exhibition game against Lake Erie.  He recently spent a week on the Everblades IR getting into game shape.

The plan was to play for the Everblades most of the year, transitioning from defense to right wing, work on his skating and then move up to the AHL in the next year or two.  But after playing in just one game and then being healthy scratched two games by the Everblades, the Panthers recalled the 20-year-old DeLory on Wednesday, likely to place him elsewhere in the minors where he’ll get more playing time.

Hockey’s Future spoke to DeLory on Monday, during the Everblades’ visit to the Gwinnett Gladiators. 

HF: Are you out of the lineup because you had a recurrence of symptoms from your concussion?

JD: No.  I got cleared to play and everything, just I guess they felt they didn’t need a physical presence in the lineup tonight. It happens once in a while I guess.

HF: When you did play last Friday, how did you feel?
JD: I felt good.  Came back, got a few shifts here and there.  Played pretty physical.  Didn’t get into a fight or anything like that, just got out there and did my thing.

HF: You’re switching positions from D to forward this year, how’s that going?

JD: It’s going pretty good.  It’s a learning process.  I just played my first pro game as a forward and it was pretty good, it’s pretty fun.  Get in there and hit some guys and get some shots on net.  I’ve been doing a lot for almost a month now in practice [at forward] at the camps so it’s starting to come along. 

HF: Didn’t you play forward when you were a bantam?

JD: When I was younger, yeah.  I have a little bit of experience there, but it’s a little different than in pro now.

HF: Did it kind of come back to you though?

JD: A little bit, a couple things. But especially with the new coaches I’ve been through from Florida to Rochester to here, different systems with different coaches that I have to relearn.  The guys here have been great, helping me, a lot of the veteran forwards.

HF: Do you find it tougher at forward to read the play?

JD: Yeah, one of the best things about being a defenseman is you have the full ice in front of you and you can see everything.  I’ve been just trying to keep my game simple, have my back up against the boards, chipping pucks, dumping them in.  I’m not out there trying to make pretty plays or anything. 

HF: How did Florida approach you about changing positions?

JD: Through their Director of Hockey Personnel.  And Jacques Martin.  They just felt that in the role they see my playing as a physical presence, it would probably be easier to do it as a power forward.  Get out there and stir it up a bit. They’re here and they want me to work on my skating.  They felt I could do that as a forward, keeping my feet moving a lot more. 

HF: And you had this conversation before you signed this summer?
JD: They did mention it at the time of signing that they were going to use me in both situations.  So I was aware going in.

HF: Should we officially change your position to forward then at the site?

JD: I guess so, I guess you can do what you want (laughing).

HF: Is there anything in particular you’re doing to help your skating?
JD: It’s fortunate at the rink [in Estero] we have the artificial ice, the treadmill thing.  I’m hoping to get on that at least like once or twice a week – early in the week so my legs aren’t tired for games. About a week and a half ago I skated on it for the first time and it’s a pretty hard workout.  I think it will help me out a lot. And the little things [on the ice] like trying to keep my feet moving will help me out.

HF: How do you feel about being a rookie again?

JD: (laughing) Oh it’s a little different.  Playing four years in the OHL I was with the same organization so I kind of settled in there nicely.  Now they kind of uprooted me and I’m going through the process again, but it’s fine.  You gotta pay your due wherever you go.  Comes with the territory. 

HF: You’re carrying some bags then?
JD: Carrying some bags, helping the trainer out, picking up pucks.  You gotta do what you gotta do.

HF: Who was the toughest guy in the OHL last year?

JD: There’s a few guys. There’s a couple guys younger than me drafted for their toughness – (Richard) Greenop (CHI), (Anthony) Peluso (STL), (Luke) Gazdic (DAL).  Kyle Neuber in St. Mike’s was pretty tough too. They’re back in the OHL this year and will be the top guys again.

HF: You played with (2009-eligible) John Tavares there in Oshawa.  What should fans of the team who drafts him know about him?

JD: He sees the ice great, great hands. Obviously by his points you can tell he has a great scoring touch.  He works pretty hard so if you get him, he’ll be good for you.

HF: Did you have to fight some of his battles?

JD: Yeah, well, the thing is with JT, he doesn’t really go out looking for it, but obviously being the caliber of player he is, guys are going to be trying to get in his face.  It’d be my job to step in there once in a while.  Yeah, you could say I had a few because of him (laughing).

HF: Does he try to stand up for himself though?

JD: Oh yeah, he doesn’t back down very often, but you don’t want him fighting at all.  The worst thing that could happened is him getting hurt or breaking his hand.

HF: What kind of teammate is he?
JD: He’s good, he comes to the rink every day and you don’t become that good of a player not working hard on your game.  I think he has the captain there now.  Obviously that’s going to rub off on the younger guys, to be that kind of quality player.