2004 Prospects: Q&A with Bruce Graham

By Jason Ahrens





Bruce Graham is a big 6’6” center weighing 220 pounds who plays with the<br />Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL

Bruce Graham is a 6’6” center weighing 220 pounds who plays with the Moncton
Wildcats of the QMJHL. He recently took part in the 2004 CHL Prospects Game
where Hockey’s Future caught up with him.

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Graham, from Salisbury, New Brunswick is playing in his second
season with Moncton. He had 15 goals and 13 assists in 66 games as a rookie
last year and this season he has 13 goals and 24 assists in 45 games so far.
Central Scouting ranked him as the 40th best skater in North America in their
mid-term rankings.

Graham is a good skater for a big man and handles the puck
well. His long reach affords him opportunities to get his stick on loose pucks
that others wouldn’t be able to reach. He has a nice hard wrist shot and likes
to go upstairs with it. He is a bit of a rarity at center, as it seems most
guys his size tend to play defense or the wing.

Graham centered an all-Quebec line for Team Orr in the
Prospects Game; he was flanked by Jan Steber (ranked 80th by
Central Scouting) of the Halifax Mooseheads and Renaud Des Alliers
(ranked 97th by Central Scouting) of the Gatineau Olympiques. He
scored a goal in the second period when he was left alone in front and took a
nice feed from Des Alliers after some good hustle by Steber to beat a defender
to a loose puck.

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Graham almost made the highlight package for another reason
as he had his head down at the end of a shift and narrowly avoided getting
smoked by a defenseman who took a serious run at him. In the skills contest
Graham recorded the third fastest time in the sixty-foot dash and his shot was
clocked at a very respectable 90.1 miles per hour.

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Hockey’s Future: So you are from Moncton, New Brunswick and
you are playing for the Moncton Wildcats, how does that feel to be playing in
your home town?

Bruce Graham: It’s great. A lot of guys don’t play close to
home and they don’t see much of their family. I can see my family whenever I
want so I don’t get homesick, and my family is very important to me.

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HF: You guys have a pretty strong team and you are helping
out offensively, do you think that this is your breakthrough year?

BG: Yeah I guess so. We have a great team right now, but
even so, I think I would be putting up some points regardless. I think we have
a really strong team and we made some good trades and picked up some good
veterans so we should be strong going into the playoffs.

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HF: You scored a goal tonight, describe it for us.

BG: Well it was a weird play, I was in front all by myself;
I guess the guys forgot about me. I don’t know, I guess they thought I couldn’t
do anything with it or what!

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HF: You were so alone you had your own postal code!

BG: Yeah it was weird. I took a look over both of my
shoulders and it was just me and the goalie, so I had lots of time, so I just
made a little deke and took a shot high over the shoulder and put it home.

HF: Now as a Maritimer, how important has been the expansion
of the QMJHL into the Maritimes? Does that give you more incentive as a kid
when you are growing up to pursue the dream of playing in the Q?

BG: Oh yeah, big time. There are now five teams based there,
before kids from PEI and New Brunswick would go to Ontario or out West to play.
Now we can keep them in the Quebec league and it’s a big thing, a lot of my
friends are playing there. It’s kind of special, playing at home you don’t have
to go as far and it’s kind of like having your own league. It’s a big thing for
all of us in the Maritimes.

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HF: Before you entered the Q, what level of minor hockey
were you playing?

BG: Well I’m not actually from Moncton, I’m from Salisbury,
it’s a little village just outside of Moncton. So I played there, in the
Riverview league, the Petticodiac league, but when AAA came around I started
playing in Moncton, so I have played in the Moncton area my entire life.

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HF: Now you are a late birthday (born after September 15),
has that helped you having an extra year for the scouts to watch you?

BG: Definitely a good thing. Last year I was just a rookie
and I was learning the league. This year its been going a lot better for me.
Experience is a big thing you know in the Canadian Hockey League. You are only playing for a few years and the
second year is a big year. This year is a big year for me and I think I’m
performing pretty well.

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HF: You mentioned travel earlier. In the Quebec league you
have some long bus trips to games and there was a controversial story not too
long ago about players trying different types of medications to get to sleep.
Now do you see that as a being a problem in your league?

BG: I’d rather not comment on that.

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HF: How hard is to keep up with school when you are on the
road riding the buses?

BG: I have graduated now, but for the 16 and 17-year-olds,
most of them take correspondence and they have to work on it. It’s really
tough, I graduated and just got by with enough credits and I concentrated on it
a lot last year. You know some of the guys put it off and concentrate just on
hockey, but you have to get your diploma, if hockey doesn’t work out for you,
you have to fall back on something. For all the kids who aren’t doing it, it’s
a big thing and they should be. It’s something that I really believe in.

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HF: If hockey doesn’t work out for you, do you have any
careers chosen?

BG: I would go to university and probably pursue a degree
and be a gym teacher. I have some connections with some fire fighters and that
is something that I might like to do, so I have some options out there.

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HF: Describe your play for someone who hasn’t seen you play
before.

BG: I’m a big centerman and I like to set up guys and I get
the odd goal. I’m more of a finesse player, I do take the body and stuff, but I
like the finesse game a little more.

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HF: Who is your favourite NHL player?

BG: That’s a tough one, I have a few. I like the big guys,
Lemieux, Thorton, Bertuzzi, I like a lot of the big guys.

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HF:
What are your goals for the rest of the season

BG: Well I guess to continue playing well. I got invited to
this so I must be doing something right. We have a good team this year and
hopefully we go far in the playoffs.

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