Q&A With Montreal Canadiens Prospect Mike Komisarek

By Jake Dole

NAME: Mike Komisarek
TEAM: Montreal Canadiens
POSITION: Defense
HEIGHT/WEIGHT: 6’foot 4, 240 lbs.
SHOOTS: Right
BIRTHDATE/PLACE: 1982/01/19 Islip Terrace, NY
DRAFT STATUS: Montreal 1st pick/7th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft

THE VITALS:

– Top scoring defenseman with Michigan of the CCHA (second in the League); also registering a +/? of 23

– Has decided to turn professional after two seasons in the College Program

– Played for United States at the 2001?2002 World Junior Championships in Pardubice, Czech Republic. He registered 2 points and 14 penalty minutes at the tournament


JAKE’S TAKE:


The Canadiens must be anxious to add Komo to their everyday lineup. But they might have to wait another year, as Mike further develops on the farm. Those Rob Blake comparisons are not without merit – Komisarek is a lean, mean hitting machine. His positioning is excellent and game smarts beyond most players his age. In addition, Komisarek possesses deadly accurate passing skills and a wicked hard shot. Arguably the top defensive prospect in hockey.

Hockey’s Future: Mike, how does it feel to compete in the Hull Rookie Tournament in Ottawa?

Mike Komisarek: Oh, feels great. All across Canada, the fans are very passionate about hockey. In Montreal the fans are very knowledgeable and they know what’s going on, and you can definitely say this about the fans in Ottawa. It is good to see the fans come out for a tournament like this.

HF: What would you say is the difference between Mike Komisarek of yesteryear and Mike Komisarek of today?

MK: I think that I have matured – a year has made a world of difference. I’ve matured physically and mentally. I’m getting stronger, quicker and gaining more experience. I am using my body more and just learning to be consistent – it is one of the more difficult things that I have to deal with. There are many things I still have to learn, and I have to keep working hard.

HF: What is your immediate goal to accomplish at the Canadiens training camp?

MK: I can’t really pinpoint or put my finger on one thing. I know that I have a lot of things to learn and a lot of things to experience. I have to keep working hard, take everything in and approach things with an open mind. I think that I will be successful with that… I will work hard and hopefully, at the end of the day, when I look at myself, I’ll be happy with the results.

HF: Your production at Michigan (CCHA) increased virtually in 2 last year. To what would you attribute such an increase?

MK: It’s about confidence, you know. In the freshman year, you just try to establish yourself, learning the ropes and things like that. Last year, having that year under my belt gave me that much more confidence with the puck and I was willing to try more things, experiment and stuff like that.

HF: Is there a hockey player who you admire or emulate?

MK: I love watching guys like Rob Blake and Chris Pronger. I think that these are the guys that I try to emulate.

HF: Your play has been compared with some of the great hockey players of today’s age, like Rob Blake. How do you react to that?

MK: It depends on how you look at it. If you look at it as pressure, I guess you’d struggle, but I just look at it as an opportunity. I have left school, because I see this as a huge opportunity to hopefully one day play for the Montreal Canadiens. As long as I work hard and stick with this, everything will work out, hopefully.

HF: Did you work out a lot during the off-season?

MK: It’s one of the biggest things for me. Hockey is a sport where you can’t really take an off-season – as soon as your season ends, you’re already looking ahead for next year and preparing yourself physically. I’ve been working out pretty much all summer long.

HF: You have decided to turn pro this year. Did you feel, in any way, pressured to do that? Was there a factor that propelled you towards making that decision?

MK: Well, (the NHL) is a big opportunity for me, and it=s something that I’ve been wanting to do my whole life. I’ve grown up playing hockey with the goal of playing (professionally). I feel that I was ready to accept that challenge, although if it had been anywhere else other than Michigan, it would have been a difficult decision. Michigan is a great academic school, where the hockey program is a storied tradition. But I decided not to look back, but look ahead and accept the challenge.

HF: What are your impressions of the city of Montreal?

MK: It’s beautiful. We came in about three weeks ago on Sunday night – we drove in to see the skyline. I think that it’s an awesome city – people are passionate about their hockey and you couldn’t ask for a better environment as a hockey player. The fans are very knowledgeable and as long as you work hard and give your best out there, the fans will appreciate that.

HF: Many claim that the defenseman is the toughest position to master as a hockey player. How do you feel about that?

MK: I have always heard that is takes defensemen, especially bigger defensemen, a bit longer to develop. But I’ve played defense my whole life and, being a big guy, I learned to use my body a lot (on the ice), in order to be a physical presence.

HF: What would you say has been the most important achievement so far in your career?

MK: Probably the past two couple of seasons at Michigan were the most special – getting to the final four. This has probably been my biggest achievement to date. Our whole season was about getting to that final championship game and winning that trophy. We came so close, but it was still a success in many ways.

HF: Up until now, who has been the biggest influence on your career in hockey?

MK: I have had a lot of tremendous coaches – like former Islander Gerry Hart, who coached me and mentored me on Long Island. I also had a coach named Alexei Nikiforov, who workes with a bunch of Islanders and other players in the NHL. He is probably the reason I am here and I always try to take in a little bit from every coach that I come across.

HF: Do you have a hockey nickname?

MK: Well, I got one. Guys call me Komo.

HF: Here are a couple that the Canadiens fans have for you: Komisaurus and Mike the Wall. How do these sound?

MK: (laughs) It’s nothing like that – guys in the locker room just call me Komo.