Heading into his second training camp with the Edmonton Oilers, Doug Lynch said it’s his goal to stay longer than he did last season.
Most likely, the 19-year-old defenceman will eventually be returned to Red Deer where he’ll be heading into his fourth full season in a Rebels uniform.
After the Rebels’ 11th Annual McDonald’s Black and White Game earlier this month at Red Deer’s Enmax Centrium, I caught up to the Coquitlam native to talk about the upcoming season.
Hockey’s Future: You’ve got 18 eligible guys coming back this year to Red Deer. You’ve had two really successful seasons. Do you think you’re going to be as successful this year as you were in the last two years?
Doug Lynch: Obviously we don’t want to have a decline in the progress we made the last two years. We’re a little disappointed last year on how our season ended, but give regards to Kootenay – they played a really good season and they beat us in six games (in the WHL Championship Series). It kind of left a bitter taste in a lot of guys mouths over the summer. We’re still going to come back here and like you said, we have 18 guys coming back, so we’re hoping that it’s a repeat of what we did in 2000 (when the Rebels won the Memorial Cup) and we’ll get as far as we can this year.
HF: Coming back this year, you’re one of the older veterans at 19 years of age. How are you looking at it for yourself? You obviously want to have a big leadership role?
DL: Obviously being a veteran here, I know what the coaching staff wants and what the city here expects and what we expect of ourselves. I’ve been with Brent (Sutter) for four years now so I understand the program inside and out. If I can help some of the young guys come in and feel more comfortable on the ice and off the ice, I’d like to do that along with the other veterans we’ve got here.
HF: Does that build a lot of confidence for your team, having a lot of guys who’ve been drafted and who are also prospects for the NHL?
DL: I think so, especially having all the guys drafted a couple years ago with what they’re going through. The other guys look up to them and want to get to where they are by being drafted. It creates more excitement around the team and a buzz where people come out and watch. And these guys end up going higher, the farther we go as a team. It’s always a Catch-22 that the better the team does, the better individuals do as well. As long as you can contribute to the team success, then everybody else will have success on our team.
HF: Talk about your situation. What’s your outlook heading into Edmonton’s training camp?
DL: Obviously I’m hoping to stay longer then I did last year. Every year I want to continue to improve and to stay as long as I can. I played one exhibition game last year, so I’m hoping to get into a couple this year. But you never know what happens and I’m excited about the team in Red Deer. I’m going to focus on Red Deer here until I leave for Edmonton. When I go to Edmonton, I’m going to focus on Edmonton. Whatever happens happens and we’ll go from there.
HF: Can you talk about your contract status at all?
DL: Yeah, we turned down a qualifying offer in the summer the day after we got beat out. So they said ‘Come to camp and we’ll see what you can do at camp and we’ll talk again later.’ It’s in the back of my mind, but I know full well that the way I play on the ice is going to determine that. So as long as I focus for every game and every practice, that will take care of itself.
HF: Your younger brothers Scott and Jeff play for the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs respectively. Now, your youngest brother Jason has been drafted (by Spokane) as well. Is that pretty special to have all four of you guys drafted into the WHL?
DL: I’ve always had a lot of competitive nature obviously with my brothers, growing up with them. On the ice it’s no different even though I only get to play them a couple times every year because they’re both from the Western Conference. It’ll be exciting once Jason’s in the league. He’s been looking up to us the last three or four years wanting to get there, so it’s really nice for him – to see him reach one of his goals.
HF: There’s a possibility that all four of you could be playing in the WHL this year if Spokane brings Jason up as a 15-year-old?
DL: Yeah, there sure is. It’s kind of exciting having four of us at the same time in the league.
HF: Again, are you pretty excited about the prospects for the team this year?
DL: Absolutely, like you said, we’ll have 18 guys coming back so we won’t have a lot of holes to fill, but the holes that are being filled are being filled by some quality individuals and some really good players. And obviously we’ve got some young guys coming up too. We have tremendous talent in the organization thanks to our director of player personnel Carter Sears. So, good job to Carter and hopefully we’ll have as good of a team as we did a couple years ago.