Paul Ballantyne is a second year pro under contract with the
Detroit Red Wings. He was a sixth round pick of the Wings in the 2002 draft out
of Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL. The
21-year-old is currently with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, with 7 goals and 15
assists in 27 games.
Hockey’s Future spoke to Ballantyne following the Storm’s
7-1 victory over the Greenville Grrrowl on Tuesday.
HF: How do you think your season is going so far?
PB: I think the season’s going pretty good. We’ve gone through a couple rough patches as
a team, but a win like that tonight, 7-1 against Greenville, is always nice, so
hopefully we can start to pick it up a little bit and get a few more wins later
on in the year.
HF: Your team looks better than its record (13-17-4).
PB: Yeah, I think we’re in a pretty tough division with
some pretty good teams. Not to say that
this down here isn’t tough, but it’s a different style of game. We were fortunate enough to get some breaks
tonight, Greenville even outshot us, but we were able to put it in early and
that might have taken them out of the game a little bit. So it was nice to get a few early like that.
HF: Toledo plays more of a disciplined system than most ECHL
teams I’ve seen. A right wing lock,
PB: Yep. We have a few different systems that we do. Tonight, 7-1, it turned into more of a run
and gun game through the first and second, but in the third, we played kind of
a 1-4 forecheck and just didn’t give them any room to come in. Systems are a big part of our game for
HF: You’ve been scoring a lot lately, that’s not something
that’s normally on your resume.
PB: [laughs] No, I’ve gotten pretty fortunate this
year. I think most of the points have
come on the power play. I think it’s
just one of those years when things are just going in. But my main focus has always been defense
and I just want to make sure I keep my plus/minus at a respectable level, and
when the points come, they come, and I’ll take them.
HF: Did you play any power play in juniors or is that
something new for you?
PB: I played a little bit of power play [in juniors]. I was never considered a real offensive
defenseman, so it was always second unit.
But this year I’ve gotten an opportunity, with the small rink we have in
Toledo a lot of point shots are able get through, that sort of thing. That’s where most of them come from.
HF: For someone who hasn’t seen you play, can you describe
PB: I try to be a defensive defenseman, work on my own zone
first of all, taking the man low. Never
ever get beat one on one, that’s the biggest thing. Try to move the puck well,
make a good first pass. When I can I’ll
chip in offensively, but definitely strong in my own zone and good first pass
is my game.
HF: What do you think you’ve improved on since last season?
PB: I think the biggest thing is just my confidence. Last year I went through kind of a tough
spell the first part of the year. The
second half of the year I kind of started to come on, and knew I could play in
this league and knew I could play at a professional level. So this year coming in, I had that
confidence. The year has gone pretty
good and so I’m just trying to work on keeping building my confidence.
HF: What do you think you still need to improve on?
PB: I think I can always improve on every bit of my
game. My puck control. There’s some
times when I get running around out there a little bit. My footspeed. I think as my skating gets better that will help me not lose as
much control out there. But everything
I’m always trying to work on.
HF: Is there anything the Wings suggested to you to work on
PB: Yep, they just told me to work on my skating. They want me to build my confidence and they
always say to concentrate on your own zone first. They also want me to play pretty physical. I think those are the things they’re looking
for, so that’s what I try to do out there.
HF: You had a few different partners tonight, who would you
say is your main defensive partner this year?
PB: Right now it’s kind of up in the air. I’d say Grady Moore a little bit
lately. But he was injured today and
only played a few shifts. A game like
that we play with everyone. All year
it’s kind of been up and down, we’re with all kinds of different guys. We’re all pretty steady defensemen, all play
somewhat of a similar game, so I think anyone is really able to play with
HF: Jason Jozsa is a rookie on your team, can you describe
PB: He is a first year guy out of Colorado College, and he’s
a very solid defenseman. I think he
handles himself very well in front of his own net and in his own zone. I think
that’s the biggest thing. He’s another
one of those first pass kind of guys, gets the puck out and as the year has
gone on he’s gotten a lot better. He’s
definitely one of the most improved players and the better he gets, the more
confident he’s going to get, and he’s going to get stronger and stronger every
HF: You seem to talk a lot out on the ice.
PB: I guess I do talk a little bit but I always want to talk
more. There are so many times out there
when you can’t really see the person you’re going to pass to or someone’s in
the way or he’s behind you.
Communication always helps when you want to get a pass or you want to
stop somebody, you point out ‘I got this guy’ or ‘You’ve got that guy’. That’s a huge part of anyone’s game.
HF: You talk between whistles too.
PB: Yeah, [laughs] I like to have fun out there as well. A
game like that where it’s 7-1 you can have a good time with the guys, that kind
of thing. When it’s a close game you
have to bear down and tell the guys ‘Hey, let’s make sure we’re doing this’ or
make sure he knows where to go off a faceoff. You always want to communicate
that before it happens.
HF: What would make this a good season for you?
PB: Well, I think definitely in our spot right now we’re
trying to make the playoffs. That would be a good year, to make the playoffs,
and who knows what could happen from there.
But the way we’ve set ourselves up, we need to do that. For me personally I just want to always stay
on the plus side of things, continue playing well, and keep building my
confidence. I always want a shot to
play up in the American League in Grand Rapids, so if I could get a shot to
play there as a regular defenseman, and earn my spot there, then it would be a
good year for me. That’s what I’m
always working towards, so until I make it up to where I want to be, I’m not
going to classify any year as a great year.
HF: You were up for five games already this year, correct?
PB: Yeah, I played a little bit up there, but they have some
pretty good defensemen and I played only a limited role. So like I said I want to get up there and
play a more steady shift, more frequent shift than I was before.