Being a rookie in the NHL is all about biding your time, getting an opportunity and making the most of the chances that are given to you. Jarret Stoll has completed each segment of that three-step course in just over a month since coming into the league.
After being a spectator for Edmonton’s first seven games, Stoll finally got a chance to play against the Calgary Flames on October 25th. Stoll didn’t appear in another Oiler game for almost two weeks and even now has appeared in less than five games all year.
So what’s so special about Jarret Stoll you ask?
The 21-year-old native of Melville Saskatchewan is an exceptionally pleasant young man. A leader at every level of hockey in which he has ever played, Stoll prides himself on being an example to his teammates in all aspects ranging from his conduct on the ice, his dealings with the media to even his diet and exercise routine.
Stoll took time out to speak with Hockey’s Future shortly after the team arrived in Minnesota for an upcoming game against the Wild.
HF: You recently spent time on the injured reserve list with what was first described as a gastrointestinal problem but was later called tonsillitis.>
JS: Yeah, they said “stomach ailment” because I don’t think they really knew what it was at first so they put that down. It was strep throat to start with and then tonsillitis.
HF: Between playing against Calgary (Oct 25) and getting back into the line up for the New York game (Nov 10), how much time did you spend on the ice?
JS: Actually I skated twice with the strength and conditioning coach in Edmonton while the team was in Ottawa and Montreal. I skated twice for maybe 45 minutes each time. Then when I flew to Toronto and rejoined the team I practiced twice then (laughs) kind of got thrown into it. Not much time to get back into shape but I’m playing again so I’m happy.
HF: You were sick enough that you lost 10-12 lbs. and lost a lot of skating time. Were you surprised that you were not sent down to Toronto for a quick reconditioning stint?
JS: I was surprised that I got back into the lineup so fast but then again with Marty Reasoner unfortunately getting hurt, I think that gave me a shot so to speak. I don’t know if they were planning on sending me down or not but I’m feeling better every day and my wind is coming and that’s the main thing.
HF: So you get into the game against the Rangers and score your first goal. Was it as exciting as you’d imagined it would be?
JS: Yeah it was, it was awesome! The puck just sat there and I just spun and shot it and it went in and we came back and won the game, which was even better. It was exciting and everything I had dreamed about and (laughs) it was good to get it out of the way!
HF: You scored your first one against the Rangers and then (Tuesday) you score another one in Boston… are the floodgates open now?
JS: (laughs) I don’t know but, hopefully yeah! It’s just great to score and to be playing in the line up and playing a lot in different situations, which I like to be in. I think I played the most (in Boston) that I’ve ever played in any game so far (NHL) so I like to contribute any way I can to help the team win.
HF: Having played in only three games and with different linemates in all three, is it possible for you to determine whom you might have the best chemistry with?
JS: I think it’s kind of tough when you move around and you’re not with somebody for a long period of time. Fernando Pisani and I actually played a lot together in training camp last year and then in Hamilton. The whole time he was in Hamilton, before he got called up, we played together and in every situation. We kind of joke around about it that he got away from me a little bit there but now we’re back together again. We play well together and I think that with Ethan Moreau that’s kind of the line I would like to be on. They work really hard and that’s what I’d like to bring to the team. They’re not flashy or fancy at all but they just get it done through a lot of hard work.
HF: Right now there are a lot of rookies in the lineup, (Torres, Sarno, Stoll, Salmelainen, Bergeron, Conklin) and on many nights it seems to be the young players who are the best guys on the ice. Does it surprise you at all that so many of the young guys are having the impact that you all are?
JS: I think so, a little bit. But then again, all these guys can play. When you get the ice time or the opportunity and you get thrown into situations where you can do well then you’re going to have success. I look at Raffi Torres and he’s playing a lot and in every different situation and he’s contributing every night. I think there are a lot of guys who are capable of doing that and it’s just a matter of getting that opportunity. But getting that opportunity quick like this is definitely awesome. Whether you’re a rookie or a second year guy, getting thrown into those situations is definitely what you want and you get experience from that.
HF: I was going to say that MacTavish is playing the young guys during critical parts of games, late in the third, PP, OT… whatever it takes. I imagine getting those opportunities is a confidence builder for a young player.
JS: It definitely is. To know that the coaching staff has confidence in you to put you out there in those kinds of situations is a big boost to your confidence and you know that you can play at this level and at big times in big games.
HF: The amount of time a rookie gets though inevitably takes ice time away from a veteran. Do you ever get the feeling that a veteran might be a bit resentful seeing his ice time go to a rookie?
JS: Oh no, not at all. These guys are pros and they’ve been around a long time. The way that MacT does it is if you’re playing well during that game then you’re going to play and if you’re not playing well then you’re going to sit. That’s the way it goes and there’s nothing wrong with that. It forces the player to put pressure on himself to play well every night and on every shift whether it’s creating offensively or playing well defensively. As for resentment, there’s none of that at all. The team wants to win and so whatever it takes to win whether it’s a young guy or a veteran.
HF: You’ve been up with the Oilers since the start of the year. Other than Raffi’s pie incident with Izzy (Torres gave Isbister the standard pie-in-the-face during a live TV post game interview), have you seen any other practical jokes going around?
JS: (laughs) No… it’s been pretty quiet lately actually. We’ve been so busy practicing and playing that there hasn’t been time for much of that stuff.
HF: Speaking of the pie incident, was Raffi put up to that by the other guys because he’s a rookie or what?
JS: Well, we were watching the TV in the room and someone just sort of mentioned it and Raffi kind of… stood up. (laughs)
HF: Did he volunteer?
JS: Yeah he kind of volunteered and everybody thought it would be a pretty good idea so he did it.
HF: There is an annual tradition with the team that the rookies get nailed paying for a team dinner. Do you know when that will be or do they just spring it on you?
JS: No one has set a date yet; they wait to make sure it’s a good time in the schedule. It’s usually on the road and it hasn’t been on this trip so I don’t know when it will be.
HF: What things have surprised you about the NHL in terms of things that happen off the ice away from the game?
JS: Flying instead of traveling on the bus is a positive that’s for sure. Now we travel so quick, I mean… last night we were in Boston and now today we are in Minnesota so everything kind of happens really quick. You’re on the ice a lot, there’s not really many days off and when you are on the ice it’s all out because you’re at work and that’s how it’s looked upon.
HF: How do you view having to talk with the media? Is it a necessary evil?
JS: No, I have no problems with it. It’s part of the game and has to be done. It gives the public a different view of things so I have no problems with it at all.
HF: Now that you’ve spent some time in Edmonton… what do you think about it and do you have likes or dislikes?
JS: I like how it’s not that big of a city. It’s easy to get around; it’s pretty much 15 minutes here or 15 minutes there. I come from a small town myself so I’m not really the big, big city type of guy. I like how it’s so convenient to get around. As for the fans, the atmosphere playing in Skyreach is unbelievable and I don’t think you could get much better than that. I think it’s one of the best places to play in the league.
HF: Are you and Raffi still staying in a hotel?
JS: No, Raffi moved out and is in his own place now so it’s just Bergeron and me still (in the hotel).
HF: Is the situation revolving around Mike Comrie having any effect on the team in any way?
JS: No, no it’s not; guys really don’t even talk about it. It’s something that’s been put on the back burner and when something happens then it happens but it’s not affecting the team at all. A lot of guys are good friends with (Mike) including myself, but it’s not something the guys are even worried about.
HF: How do you feel about the upcoming outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium?
JS: I’m excited about it. It’s certainly going to be a different experience for all of us. Hopefully I’m in the line up playing in it and that the weather’s good too.
HF: Do you have any concerns about it? Ice conditions or perhaps being able to follow the puck at times against an unfamiliar background with the crowd sitting so far away?
JS: I guess we’ll have to see once we’re actually playing but I’m sure they’ll do a good job and make sure the ice is as best as they can get it. It’ll be different, just seeing the puck and being outside in the cold air will be the biggest things. It’s going to be different but both teams will have to go through it so there’s no real advantage.
HF: Lastly, are you worried yet about the CBA and all that may or may not happen over the summer and next year?
JS: I don’t really worry too much about it yet but it is pretty serious. The guys had a meeting in Ottawa about it and just relayed how serious a situation it really is so guys are taking it that way. I’ll just take it as it comes and whatever happens, happens.