For the past few years center Erik Christensen has been criticized for a lack of consistency. One shift he would make your jaw drop with an amazing pass or shot and then he would simply vanish during the next shift. So how did Christensen go from a model of inconsistency to winning the WHL scoring title this year?
“Maturity.” said Christensen. “I grew up a bit. A lot of it had to do with opportunities and ice time. A lack of consistency and intensity were what people were saying about me, but Coach said to me ‘You’re my guy; I’m going to play you a lot. Rise to the occasion.’”
And he did. Christensen netted 54 goals and adding 54 assists in the regular season, along with eight more points (1g 7a) in six playoff games, which was five more points than the team’s second highest scorer. Besides his coach, Erik also gives his father much of the credit for helping him become a better player.
“Dad was my coach; still is my coach, he helps me with training and he helps to make me a better player. He’s a real hockey nut.”
Christensen is a real hockey nut himself, a student of the game who tries to pick up a little bit of every player he sees.
“Right now, Modano and Gaborik are two of my favorites. People have told me I’m similar to Mike Modano, tall and slim, I skate well, and I shoot the puck well. I just try to take the best of everyone, like the balance of Forsberg and the shot of Sakic.”
Judging by Christensen’s success on the ice and in the locker room for Kamloops (he wore an “A” this year) the Penguins have a good prospect on their hands and Erik is happy to be a part of their organization.
“The Penguins were actually the first team to interview me at the fitness tests in Toronto, but the meetings went really well with Colorado too. I knew I was going to go mid-2nd or in the 3rd round, but I was actually kind of surprised when the Pens took me. I’m lucky to be in this organization. Mario is great. I got to meet him and Kovalev in training camp. Their management is great too. It’s unfortunate about their financial situation.”
Christensen attended the 2002-03 training camp and got a good look at many of the young players he will be joining as Pittsburgh begins its youth movement. He is not yet under contract, but plans on signing and playing with Pittsburgh or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2003-04 season.
“Kamloops is great, a great city that has great fans. I have lots of friends there, as well as my teammates. It wouldn’t hurt my development to go back for another year if I didn’t go to Pittsburgh or Wilkes-Barre. The GM (of Kamloops) doesn’t expect me back next year. My ultimate goal is to make it to the NHL. I don’t want to bounce around. Jumping back and forth does not appeal to me, I’m going to work hard and I’m going to stay. I’m excited to see where I go, whether it’s Pittsburgh or Wilkes-Barre, next year is win/win for me.”