Even though the lockout is in full effect,
NHL teams’ AHL affiliates have opened up their training camps for the upcoming 2004-05 season. For some players, it is a chance to stay fresh with the hope that the NHL will return shortly. For up and coming prospects like Phoenixs goaltender of the future, David LeNeveu, it is a chance to further his development and get a big opportunity to shine against some NHL sized talent.
Hockeys Future caught up with LeNeveu at the Utah Grizzlies training camp in Boise, Idaho.
Here’s what the netminder had to say about going pro, being an AHL All-Star, his work ethic and the 2004-05 season.
HF: Last season you played in Springfield. How was your first year playing in a pro league?
DL: It is always an adjustment moving up a level, especially from college to pro. There
are a lot more games, the guys are bigger, theyre stronger and they shoot the puck harder. Overall it was a good year. I thought I adjusted fairly quickly and got into the groove of things. We saw a far amount of shots last year, both Jean Marc [Pelletier] and I, so that is always good for your development.
HF: What was it like to make the All-Star team your first year in the AHL?
DL: It was an definitely an honor to be selected. There were a lot of great guys that played in that game. I was a lot of fun and we all had a great time. It was nice to have someone
like Scotty Bowman talk at the team dinner and even see Grant Fuhr hanging around.
HF: Over the last couple years, you have played in college, you played on Canadas National Team in the World Juniors and you got a full season in at the pro level. Has the exposure to the higher level of play been instrumental in anyway in regards to your overall development?
DL: Definitely. There are better players and shooters and you have to make bigger adjustments. You have to adjust to the release of the shot, being able to maneuver faster and cover backdoor plays. You start to notice how good some of the players are and you have to step it up another level. You have to do that much more to give yourself a chance. Over the course of the last three years, it has been a huge help.
HF: Accomplishing so much in young career, how do you keep yourself motivated and what do you to prepare yourself to take it to the next level all the time?
DL: Just like every year is different, every game is different. You have to take that approach. The past is in the past and you cant look to what you want to do in the future. You have to take it one game at a time and play to the best of your ability. The same thing goes for practices. You have to treat it as an area where you can work on fine tuning your game. You cant get ahead yourself or reflect on the future. You have to be in the now all the time.
HF: Has the NHL lockout helped or hurt your situation with the organization in anyway?
DL: Well, it is really disappointing to have the lockout come. It leaves a lot of players in an weird position. Everyone would have liked to get their crack at the NHL lineup this year, including me. I think it is going to be a great year in the AHL regardless of the situation in with the NHL. From a developmental standpoint, yes. We are going to see a lot of guys that would have been taking shifts on an NHL line, on a nightly basis. The level of play is going to be vastly improved. Overall, I think it will be great for our development as a team and as individuals.
HF: Due to the influx of talent that is coming to AHL, what do you do to prepare yourself to handle stiffer competition?
DL: First of all it’s nice to have these type of players coming down to Utah. We are all excited to be playing together and we are all going to work extremely hard. For me, having that quality of players on our team gives me the ability to see those NHL quality shooters. It will carry right over to the games. I will prepare the same way I would every year, just now it is at a higher level.
HF: Having that increase in talent, does the difference and/or addition of players make you more confident in relation to last season in Springfield?
DL: Looking back at last year, we felt as if we had a great team. We were all excited about last season, but things did work out that way. Now, it is a new year and we are looking to improve. Everyone is excited. We have a great blueline corps and a couple of solid lines to put out on the ice every shift. Everyone is a bit more confident, but we all realize that the rest of the teams in the league are in the same situation we are. It is going to be pretty even across the boards. It is really going to depend on who steps up first and what team gels the fastest.
HF: Are you a superstitious player and are there any particular things you do habitually before a game?
DL: Personally, I dont believe in superstitions. I do have routines, but there is nothing superstitious about it. If something weird happens during a game, then I will deal with it. I cant dwell on it and let it effect my routine. I have to move on and keep my mental approach the same night after night.
HF: There is a myth that goaltenders are generally in their own world. Do you think goalies are the more level headed players and the rest of the guys are the ones in their own worlds?
DL: (Laughs) I have been told Ive been the most normal goaltender that they [teammates] have played with. I am just as normal as the next guy. I have a job to do and I go out there and do it. Overall, I think goalies do a better job of studying the game as much or more than other guys on the ice. Honestly (laughs), I just leave that one alone. We all do a great job.
Copyright Hockey’s Future. Do not
duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.