J-F Plourde is a soon to be
22-year-old rookie out of the QMJHL. He is currently on a one-year, one-way
contract with the AHL Toronto Roadrunners, and assigned to the ECHL Columbus
Cottonmouths, where he is tied for third on the team in scoring with 11 goals
and 8 assists in 35 games. He will be representing Columbus in the ECHL
All-Star game later this month.
Plourde sat down with
Hockey’s Future following Columbus’ 5-1 loss to the Mississippi Sea Wolves on
HF: How do you think your season is going so far?
JFP: I think it’s going
OK. I feel like I can score or have a
point pretty much every night, but it seems like it’s not happening all the
time. I feel like I have chances and I
play to do that. The team was
struggling the first two months of the season. We weren’t able to score goals,
so it was hard for me and hard for all the guys to play how we wanted to play,
getting points and making the team win.
So I think considering that, my season is going well. I’m pretty sure that Brian, the coach, is
happy with what I do on the ice, hitting and playing physically, getting some
goals. Getting the mention to the
All-Star game [means that] some other people figured out that my season was
going well too, so it’s good for me to have that little push on the back to
HF: The ECHL picks younger players for its All-Star
game to let them show their stuff, does it mean more to you because of
JFP: Sure. I know that some other players who are older
have more points than me, but coaches from other teams saw that I was doing
well for a rookie. To represent my team
there is an honor for me.
HF: You were playing center tonight and you were more involved in the
play. Do you think that’s just because
of the nature of the position, or because you feel more comfortable there?
JFP: It’s true, a center is
more involved in the game because he’s taking draws, he’s coming back for his D
all the time. I think I get more
involved in the game when I’m playing center, but I have to get used to playing
wing. You can get involved at wing
putting pressure on the forecheck, helping the center on the draw, stuff like
that, getting back for your defensemen.
So you can get involved both ways.
I think I played better tonight because I have just came back from a
concussion last week and it took me a few games.
HF: You’re still getting used to switching over to wing. What do you think is the hardest part about
JFP: It’s a completely
different game. The center can skate
more, by supporting the D and the wingers.
The wingers have to stay in the lanes more along the board, coming back,
skating along the boards all the time.
The center just can read and react to his wingers. It’s a different game, I have to get used to it. I’m kind of used to it, but I haven’t played
much wing this year so it’s good that I can play pretty much everywhere, I’m
sure that the coach likes it too. He
can use me in the three positions.
HF: You seemed like you were winning every faceoff tonight, do you know your
percentage on the season?
JFP: I don’t know, but
tonight was a good one for me. About a
month ago I was kind of struggling with my faceoffs, I was like 48 percent,
which is not good. You need to be at
about 60 at least to be good. But
tonight I had like 75 percent. To me
there is no secret, you just have to go there and say in your head, ‘I’m going
to win this faceoff.’ And that’s how I’ve worked it for the last three
weeks. Every time when I go in there,
in my head is like ‘It’s yours.’ All
the time. So for the last three weeks
I’m over 60. And tonight that guy,
[Brent] Gauvreau, is pretty good on faceoffs.
A month ago probably I would have lost every faceoff that I took against
HF: So you’re not doing anything differently, you’re just thinking
JFP: It’s about the hands on
your stick, reading the guy in front of you.
If he’s a righty, if he’s a lefty.
Try to go really hard on the puck and that’s the way I like to do
HF: Tonight you were on a line with [Christian] Larrivee
and [Brad] Voth, do you play with them often?
JFP: No, Johnny Morlang got
sick yesterday and the coach needed a center so that’s why I played center last
game and tonight.
HF: How do you think you three played together?
JFP: I think we played a good
game, in our style. We put pressure a
lot on their D, we hit a lot. Brad is
the kind of guy who is going to get big hits all night long. Christian has good hands. I think we played not a great game, but just
an OK game. We got a lot of shots too,
I think I got probably like 10 shots tonight.
I have to bring my scoring abilities back. Since I have come back from my concussion, maybe I’m struggling
to put the puck in the net.
HF: You seem to be missing the net wide a bit.
JFP: That’s it. I need to pick it up on that, work on that
in practice, it will come back. I’m not
HF: Are you still feeling any effects from the
JFP: No, it was a small
concussion, first degree. I got hit on
a Friday and came back the next Saturday.
It’s not from the concussion, just getting back to playing. I worked really really hard last week riding
the bike and going to the gym, so I felt good this weekend.
HF: What do you feel is your role on the team?
JFP: I think I have always
been a complete player. I can do pretty
much everything that the coach asks me.
My first year in junior my coach used me like a defensive player. I was playing against the best line all the
time. And I did pretty good, I ended up
with 37 points, 17 goals. The next year
he used me as a defensive player too, but I got 49 goals, so the winds just
changed that year. When I finished my
career in junior at 20 years old, my coach when I was in Rimouski used me as an
offensive player, power play and all that stuff. Sherbrooke, more than in
Rimouski used me offensively all the time.
I was still playing penalty killing.
I ended up with 58 goals. So I
think the thing I want to do on the ice, and what I think I’m better at, is
being a goal scorer. That’s how I feel
on the ice. I have 11 goals. It’s been two weeks since I scored, but
before that I was kind of on a good roll, you know? I’m a goal scorer, but to be that goal scorer I have to hit and I
have to be a complete player to be good.
HF: In Friday’s game it seemed like you were trying to set people up more
than taking the shot yourself.
JFP: I was joking with
[Marc-Andre] Thinel yesterday, I said that I have two assists this weekend —
my concussion changed me from a goal scorer to a playmaker [laughs]. Tonight I shot more. I just have to put it behind that goalie and
try to work on it. Maybe it’s good for
me to know I can be a playmaker.
HF: Obviously no one scores at the same rate in this league than in the
QMJHL, what exactly makes it tougher to score here?
JFP: It’s more of a team
game here. I don’t know the word to say
that, but all five players on the ice and the goalie are working together. It’s more difficult to play against that,
compared to junior where you can do individual stuff on the ice. That’s the big difference. You have to play with your teammates and
that’s how you’re going to win games and that’s what we’re doing right now, the
last month, we’re playing together.
HF: Do you think the goaltending differs between the
JFP: I don’t think so. I think there are some really good goalies
like that guy in Louisiana [Cloutier].
He’s from Quebec so I know him from back then too. He’s a really good goalie. The guy in Gwinnett, Garnett. That guy is awesome. I stopped at his net last night to say ‘I’m
going to get you some day’ but he just laughed and said ‘keep going’. But I think he’s a good goalie. That guy in Augusta, Saal, that got injured. Maybe they are just more experienced. Those three guys, I think they’re not rookies. So when you’ve played pro hockey before I
think you get the pace of the league.
Goalies are more experienced here, that’s the difference between the two
leagues. They know how to play.
HF: You’re second in shots among rookies, so
obviously you’re getting a lot of chances, why do you think they aren’t going
in for you?
JFP: I don’t know, I won’t
talk about confidence because I’m confident with what I can do, that’s why I
have 11 goals. Maybe the pace of the
game, shooting quicker. I have to work
on it. I was talking to my coach
yesterday morning and he just asked me to relax on the ice. Don’t put too much pressure on
yourself. I’m that kind of guy, who
wants to be the best. I want to help a
lot and have ice time. I have this
desire to be out there sooner. I think
every game like that, that I want to be the best player on the ice. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but
sometimes I try too much to score.
HF: Maybe you’re thinking about it too much?
JFP: I think so, yeah. It’s something I have to work on.
HF: Did you have any culture shock coming from Quebec
JFP: There’s a lot of things
that are different. It’s my first time
in the United States. But it’s OK, I’m learning everything. The people are really nice. The booster club is all around us, and I
have a great sponsor family. They’re
taking care of me and I don’t have any cultural shock I think. Well, maybe the language when I arrived here. It was the same when I want to Edmonton
training camp. I was in an English world. I think I have improved my English since the
beginning of the year by living with a guy from Ottawa, Dan Tudin. He helps me a lot, and actually he wants to
HF: The weather is a big change from Quebec.
JFP: My girlfriend told me
it was –38 Celsius with the wind this weekend.
That’s cold. I heard some people
saying that it’s cold here now but it’s not cold at all. It’s cold, but compared to Quebec with the
snow and the wind, no. I don’t know how
to translate it into Celsius. I think
you take a number, double it and add 30, but when it’s like 20 Fahrenheit, I
don’t know how to put it in Celsius because it’s minus. Maybe that’s my cultural shock [learning
HF: Does having several teammates from Quebec help
JFP: Yeah, it’s always
nice. I knew Christian Larrivee from
before, we’re from the same town. I
played against him in all my minor hockey.
We knew each other pretty well.
We can talk together and encourage each other because we’re from the
same league. He’s a nice guy. [Olivier]
Michaud, who got recalled to Hamilton is a real nice guy too so we all get
along real well.
HF: You attended training camp with the Edmonton Oilers this fall. Can you talk about what that was like for
JFP: It was my first experience
in pro hockey so it was great just to be invited there, be with the pro players
and see how quick the play was, and how all five players on the ice were
working together. It was a great
experience, I learned a lot. The
coaches were nice too. MacTavish was
talking to us after practice and games.
I heard good comments from him and Mr. Lowe too. It was good just to talk to those guys, and
know that they like you and like what you do on the ice. So it was a really really good experience
HF: What was the biggest thing you took away from it?
JFP: Again, to play with
your teammates. To not rush every time
on the ice. You have to pace yourself,
you can’t rush every play because you’re going to get beat. That’s the big thing that I learned up
there, to take it easy and when you see an opportunity go hard. Patience, don’t waste any energy. Go when you have the chance to go. If not, just do your job and chances will
HF: What did you think about the pro work ethic you
JFP: Those guys work really
hard to be there and stay there. They
gave me a good training program at the end of the rookie camp. I worked really hard on that. I hope that I’m going to get back there next
HF: What do you think you need to improve on in your
JFP: To be patient and to
know how to use my energy. I know I’ll
get the opportunity to score. When you
have it, go hard on it, but when you don’t have it, just do your job, help your
d-men, think defensively first, and when you have the chance just go. That’s one big thing that I have to work on
and I think that’s coming. I can tell
that since the beginning of the year I’ve improved that a lot.
HF: What would make this a successful season for you?
JFP: I don’t know, maybe a
call from the AHL would be a good thing for me to have, to tell me I did well
here, you know? But, just to help the
team. If I’m staying here then of
course to make the playoffs. We’re only nine points away from first place [in
the division], and we were 26 points away a month ago. We have to keep doing that and for me too,
to be a complete player and the coach will use me like that everywhere on the
ice, and to get back my scoring ability.