It is no surprise that John Lammers is destined to be selected in the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft come June. Standing at 5’10″, and weighing in at 182 pounds, the 17-year-old forward has been determined to make noise in the Western Hockey League, turning heads wherever he goes. Being named to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects game certainly will not do anything to diminish that.
On the ice, he is a flashy skater, with solid vision and a pair of hands to match. With the puck, Lammers makes things happen on the ice, whether it be creating opportunities or finishing them with his shot, something he isn’t afraid to do no matter where he is on the ice.
Off the ice, the quiet spoken Lammers may have some questions surrounding him. In November, Lammers left the Lethbridge Hurricanes, heading home to Langely, British Columbia. The issues and concerns that caused Lammers to leave the club are known only to the organization, but were worked out quickly, with both parties glad to be back in each other’s graces.
Lammers spoke to Hockey’s Future after the Lethbridge Hurricanes took on the Calgary Hitmen on January 13th.
HF: Looking at the 2003-04 Western Hockey League season, you’re tied for the team lead in goals.
JL: Well as long as the goal, scoring isn’t really a big deal to me.
HF: Any adjustments you’ve had to make in your game in comparison to last season?
JL: Yeah, I think I just play out there with a lot more confidence and the coaches, as of yesterday, had a lot of confidence in me. If I mess up I know I’m going to have my chance to get back out there and that way I know I can just go out there and play my game like I can.
HF: Head coach Mikko Makela was let go by the organization and replaced [temporarily by assistant coach Luc Theoret, and now permanently by Lindsay Hoffard] today. How will this impact the team?
JL: It’s always a business, hockey. It’s sad to see, but you just have to worry about your game as selfish as it sounds. You have to work hard and play and try to not let things bother you and wake up the next day and keep going.
HF: Do you feel that the coaching change with effect you at all?
JL: I don’t think so, I think that I just need to play the same game I play, and work hard, regardless of who is behind the bench. I think the systems might change but if you work hard, everything will work out.
HF: You are five points shy of your entire point total from last season. What are you attributing your success this year to?
JL: It’s the confidence factor I think. It has to do with more ice time possibly, definitely more powerplay time. The players I play with [linemates Kris Versteeg and Chad Wolkowski] are obviously great too. A lot of it is simply confidence.
HF: Lethbridge has been struggling as of late, without a win in their last six games. What do you think the team needs to do to turn this season around?
JL: We just need to keep working hard and it’ll come. Right now we’re just fighting everything. We’re working really hard, but we’re not working as smart as we could. If we work smarter I think things will start rolling for us. I think we have the guys in the locker room to do it.
HF: Taking a glimpse into the future, what do you think this Lethbridge Hurricanes hockey club has to do in order to make a strong run to make the playoffs?
JL: I think we just have to work hard. I know we have the guys in there. We have really strong chemistry. We may not be a team stacked with superstars but we have the right people in there. If we all work hard, towards one goal, I think we can get it done.
HF: The trade deadline recently passed, and many teams, including your own, were very active. Was it a nervous time for you?
JL: Not really. I think at the same time I just need to play my game whether it’s here, or wherever it is. I’ve got to work hard every night, no matter whom it’s for.
HF: Concentrating on the 2004 National Hockey League Entry Draft, is it an event that’s been in the back of your mind, or is it something you’ve given a lot of thought to?
JL: It’s something that’s always going to be in the back of your mind, but it’s also something that you can’t let get to you, because then it will kill you and you won’t get drafted. You keep working hard, because it’s something you can’t control. You just have to work hard every night, and if you do that, someone will notice.
HF: Have you talked to any of your teammates, who have already been drafted?
JL: I roommate with Brent Seabrook and he’s also helped me a lot. He’s our captain and obviously one of the best players on our team, and also one of my best friends on the team. He’s dropped a few hints here and there and just tells me to stay focused and not worry about things because it’s nothing you can control.
HF: Something that may have helped your stock in the draft was representing Canada at the Under-18 tournament. What was that experience like for you?
JL: It was unbelievable. Obviously as a kid growing up I’ve wanted to play for Team Canada, it’s such an honour. Unfortunately things didn’t work out there but I hope I get another opportunity and if I do I’ll do things different and try my hardest.
HF: Other accolades you’ve had include being ranked 12th among Western Hockey League skaters by NHL Central Scouting. What does something like that mean to you as a player?
JL: It’s always nice; it’s always a compliment. I think that you can’t really let it get to your head. You’ve got to stay focused and keep working hard. It helps obviously because it builds your confidence, but you’ve also got to remain working hard.
HF: Hard working seems to be a trait you strive to achieve. What are some of your other traits? What does the John Lammers game consist of, for those that do not get the luxury of seeing you in person?
JL: I think I just go out there and work hard every night. I have a heavy shot, so I like to shoot the puck as often as I can. If it goes in, it goes in. I like to consider myself a player that finds the open holes and plays hard, finishes his checks every night, and tries to score some goals.
HF: Any foreseeable adjustments that you may need to make in order to make the jump to the professional level?
JL: I think you can never be a good enough skater. I think everyone can always improve on their skating, so that’s something I’d like to work on. Also, my play in the defensive zone is something I’ve worked on a lot.
HF: Have you attempted to mimic, or model your game after anyone in particular?
JL: Most likely someone like Joe Sakic. He just moves his feet all the time and shoots the puck hard. He has a quick release, is an awesome leader, and always seems to get the job done in big time situations.
HF: A lot of players have problems identifying their weaknesses, or do not like discussing them. Are there any weaknesses in your game that you feel need to be looked after?
JL: Well, everyone’s got weaknesses. With skating, I think I can move my feet faster and keep moving. It’s something I’ve been working on so I think as long as you’re getting better and working on your weaknesses it can’t really be a weakness.
HF: With weaknesses come strengths as well. What do you consider your finer points of the game?
JL: I think I see the ice pretty well. If I get the chance I’m very confident I can put the puck in the net. I work hard every night and things happen because of it.
The Langely, BC native, in 38 games for the Lethbridge Hurricanes, has recorded 16 goals and 28 points while recording 25 minutes in penalties and a plus three rating. Last season, Lammers dressed for 53 games for the Hurricanes, scoring 17 goals and adding 15 assists for 32 points and a –19 rating.
Lammers, who anchors the left side on the Hurricanes second scoring unit, was ranked 12th by Central Scouting in their preliminary rankings among Western Hockey League skaters heading into the season. He is now ranked 20th among the same category. Among North American skaters, John Lammers is ranked 69th.