Known most for fighting, at 6’1, 193, Green Bay Gambler winger Chris Crane is no heavyweight. His skating isn’t pretty, in fact it’s a bit knock-kneed. But he gets to the puck on time and while he makes basic plays, they are right decisions. He hits and comes away with the puck. Importantly, Crane doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not. He just tries to be the best grinder he can be.
Crane has 15 goals, 14 assists, and 107 penalty minutes in 52 USHL games this year. His +17 is about average on the Gamblers. The West Chester, Ohio native turned 18 in December.
Eligible for the 2010 draft, Crane is at a bit of a disadvantage in that there aren’t any big names for the draft on his team. So NHL scouts won’t spend a lot of time watching the Gamblers.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Crane after a game in late March in which he only played the first period.
HF: Someone might describe your game as "not pretty, but effective." Is that fair?
CC: I think I’m one of the players that teams need with physical play. I go out there every shift and give my hardest and I think I use my intimidation factor to grind my way through the game — I think it’s definitely effective. And I think that’s what teams need.
HF: You took the penalty for the rough and we didn’t see you much after that. Was your coach upset about that?
CC: Yes, he was. I actually didn’t get a shift for the rest of the game. It was a roughing penalty — I honestly thought it wasn’t a bad call, but it’s just one of those nights.
HF: Do you regret the penalty?
CC: I was just trying to work my hardest on the ice. I regret the penalty but it was just me trying to work hard. But that’s the way it worked out.
HF: You’re going to Ohio State — will you be there in 2011?
CC: I’m actually going to go next year. Ohio State’s coach just got fired and two of their players just signed pro contracts, so it was up in the air for 2010 or 2011, but now I’m 95 percent sure I’ll be going in next year.
HF: Now that it’s settled, do you feel like you can plan your future better?
CC: Yes, I’ve spent two years in the USHL. I have a family adviser named Ian Pulver and he pretty much told me that I need to go to college next year. He said I’m on the right track and we’re going to see what the draft looks like in June. I may even go to the OHL. It’s pretty much up in the air until we see what the draft looks like. Hopefully things will work out.
HF: You’re saying that if the NHL team who drafts you wants you to go to the OHL, you would?
CC: Yes. I’m drafted to the Windsor Spitfires, so if I do end up getting drafted [by the NHL], I will probably listen to what the team wants me to do.
HF: Are you finishing high school right now?
CC: I’m a senior in high school right now. I’ll be graduating in a couple months.
HF: What would you like to study at OSU?
CC: I want to study criminal justice. I know they have a good criminal justice program.
HF: So after hockey, do you want to be a police officer?
CC: I think I would start off as a police officer. I actually want to investigate murder scenes. I find that stuff interesting.
HF: You probably have to be a really good student to do that.
CC: Yes you do (laughs).
HF: So are you a good student?
CC: Yes I am.
HF: What’s your grade point average?
CC: Last year I had a 4.0, and this year I have a 4.0. My freshman and sophomore years I got like a 3.1, 3.2. My cumulative is probably around a 3.5.
HF: Has your adviser had contact with NHL teams and are they giving you advice?
CC: He actually has. He’s told me that if I’m not drafted, I’ll have an invitation to a rookie camp this summer. Pretty much he says teams like me. I send him game tapes of our games and he’s sending the teams who are interested in me tapes in case they don’t have a chance to come out and see me.
HF: What kind of feedback are they giving? Do they want to see you do more skating in the summer or something?
CC: My family adviser is setting me up with Sidney Crosby’s trainer. I’m planning on a week in the summer working out with him in Quebec.
HF: How would you rate yourself on leadership skills?
CC: I think I’m actually a good leader. I’m one of the younger guys on the team this year, but it’s my second year in the league so I try to prod the rookie to go out and play their best game, and when the team’s down just be positive. Everyone think os me as the comedian on the team.
HF: Do you feel like you’re underrated going into the draft?
CC: I’m really trying not to pay attention to the media stuff for the draft. I’m playing for the Green Bay Gamblers right now, to win a championship. I’m not worried about the teams who are interested in me. If in June my name comes up on the draft list, that would be awesome.