HF’s Interview with St. Michael’s Major Kevin Klein

By Brad Coccimiglio

Kevin Klein
Team: Toronto St. Michael’s Majors
Position: Defenseman
Birthdate: Dec. 13, 1984
Hometown: Kitchener, Ontario
Height: 6’1
Weight: 185 lbs

· Was St. Michael’s 2nd round pick in the 2000 OHL draft
· Klein is considered to be a top prospect for the 2003 NHL draft
· Klein will have three seasons of junior hockey under his belt before he is drafted bue to having a late birthdate

Hockey’s Future: First of all, what type of player are you and who do you compare to.

Kevin Klein: Well, I think I’m mostly a defensive defenseman. I do try to play the puck a little more than most defensive defensemen. In the past I’ve been more offensive but the past two years the coaches really wanted me to concentrate on my defensive game, be physical. I enjoy that. I think it’s something I do fairly well. It’s easier not to get caught out of position. NHL player is probably Scott Stevens, a hometown boy. I try to pick my physical play up a little bit, just play defense pretty much, not try to do anything extra, although I will occasionally jump up into the play.

HF: You’re a 2003 eligible draft prospect. Have you been thinking ahead to the draft at all? Is it in the back of you’re mind?

KK: I think it’s more in the back of my head because it’s already been a year and a half. It just feels like forever till my draft year, but the scouts still, I think, look for your earlier years to see how you develop so if I don’t improve over the years then I might go down in the draft.

HF: When draft time rolls around you’ll have completed three OHL seasons. Do you think that will be a help?

KK: I think it could be a help or it could be a disadvantage if my third year doesn’t go as well as these past two. They could see an improvement in my game but also the experience of playing three years in the league and then getting drafted. They might look at me over a two-year guy or a first year guy. I think there’s advantages and disadvantages to it.

HF: Bobby Jones has five seasons of OHL experience plus the years he spent in professional hockey. Has he been a help to you?

KK: Yes he has. He’s one of those coaches that he’s always on you and that’s a good thing because he doesn’t let you slack off and he keeps your mind on the game at all times and he’s taught me to play defense as a more physical style of game, which will help me in the future.

HF: Mark Popovic, Drew Fata, they’ve all been through it already. How have they helped you?

KK: Well, I talked to some of the guys and they’re just telling me not to get my hopes up. Anything can happen. Try to stay focused, not get a big head (laughs), just all the stuff that comes with playing the game and just to play my game and try to play a most consistent game every night.

HF: Who has had the biggest influence on you thus far?

KK: Probably (teammate) Mark Popovic or Bob Jones because they’ve just shown me the ways with hockey. Mark introduced me my first year and I played first line with Mark last year and we tried to play against the tougher lines and he just helped me into the game and the person who set up all that was Bob Jones, so, both those guys have contributed a lot towards my coming on as a hockey player.

HF: Who did you look up to when you were in minor hockey?

KK: Probably Ray Bourque because he’s one of my favorites, and because I was always an offensive defenseman, but probably Scott Stevens now because he’s more my type of player since I switched over and he’s a hometown boy too.

HF: You’re considered among the top 2003 prospects alongside players like Patrick O’Sullivan of Mississauga and Nathan Horton of Oshawa. What goes through your mind when your name comes up with those ones?

KK: It’s quite amazing. A couple years ago you’d never think of getting drafted into the NHL. It’s always one kids dream to go there and when you got good players like O’Sullivan and Horton it’s great and you just gotta play hard and hopefully you can beat’em out for a spot.

HF: Whe did you first realize that you could turn hockey into a profession?

KK: Probably in my Major Bantam year, I really improved that year and I played a year up in in Midget then I got drafted, which I wasn’t aware of the OHL draft until a year before that. It never crossed my mind. I always went to the Kitchener Ranger games watching them, thinking ‘Wow, I wish I could play there’. It was quite amazing.

HF: You said that you changed to more of a Scott Stevens type of game. Do you try to pattern yourself after him or is there someone else you try to pattern yourself after?

KK: Well, every player is different and there’s some characteristice between Scott Stevens and Ray Bourque that I like. I still like to play a defensive game now but I do like to jump up into the play and I enjoy that and I enjoy joining the rush to see if I can make something happen. I don’t know, there’s not really anyone that I compare myself exactly to.