Tyler Haskins is a 19-year-old Ohio-born center, who currently plays for the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors of the Ontario Hockey League. He was the Detroit Red Wings’ fourth round pick (162th overall) in the 2004 NHL entry draft. Haskins (6’1, 185) is in his fourth OHL season and has recently been named captain of the Majors. After a disappointing season offensively last year (12 goals, 20 assists in 62 games), he has gotten off to a fast start this season, garnering 25 points in his first 18 games.
Hockey’s Future caught up with the friendly, soft-spoken Haskins after last Sunday’s disappointing loss to the Sudbury Wolves.
HF: Your team has had a difficult early season, but it’s starting to change. How are you contributing to this turnaround?
TH: I’ve been off to a pretty good start here after a tough season last year. I’ve just had to get going, and to play with confidence, and I think I have.
HF: To what do attribute this increased confidence?
TH: I got a lot of confidence from last year in the playoffs. Also the confidence of my linemates, Justin Donati and Cory Vitarelli, and the coaches, has really made a difference this year. My linemates, the guys around me, don’t hesitate to give me the puck. I am also getting a lot of ice time, so that helps to boost confidence.
HF: Tell me what it is like being named captain.
TH: It’s really nice and has been a goal of mine since I have gotten to the OHL. It is a lot of responsibility to lead the team, but we have a pretty good number of guys, so it was nice to be chosen. When I was 16 years old, I always looked up to our captain at Guelph, now it’s nice to think I will be able to help out the younger guys.
HF: When you say it’s a lot of responsibility, how do you see your role on the team now?
TH: When we need a goal or a big hit, it is my responsibility, or one of the other older guys’ responsibility, to get it done.
HF: You got the opportunity to go to Detroit’s NHL training camp this fall. What was that like?
TH: It was a great experience, maybe a once in a lifetime experience, to be there with those guys. Playing with Steve Yzerman, a guy I grew up watching; just thinking about it now, I am amazed that I was on his team. Also to just be on an NHL team that’s a really good team, on the top of their game, was a great experience. It gives me something to look forward to.
HF: Was there any one guy that was particularly helpful to you at the training camp?
TH: No one guy was more helpful than the others. They all chipped in with advice and they all treated us young guys like we were there to make the team. We went in there very nervous. Basically they helped us relax and play our game.
HF: Were you able to do that?
TH: It’s very tough to relax going into NHL training camp, but it’s all you can do. You can’t get too hyped up, even though you are playing with guys you idolized growing up.
HF: Having been to Detroit’s training camp, did you come back to the OHL and set some specific goals for yourself?
TH: I want to increase my points, since last year I had a tough year, particularly the first half. I did come on in the second half of the season, but I wanted to start off strong, and I have. We also have five or six guys on the team that are starting strong this year, so it helps to get me going. Another goal I have is to increase my strength this year. I have worked on that and it has helped out.
HF: Who on your team do you most enjoy being on the ice with?
TH: Definitely Justin Donati and Cory Vitarelli, who are my linemates. We have a chemistry on the ice that is tough to find and really increases our scoring ability. It’s the little things, like we know where each other is on the ice, what our tendencies are on the ice, and whether someone is going to pass the puck or shoot it. Last Thursday, we had four points each.
HF: Who would you say has been most influential in your hockey career thus far?
TH: The most influential? There are so many people who have helped me. There are coaches, other captains, and just older guys I could look up to and learn things from. But definitely, I’d have to say my parents have been the most influential. One year I played for a year up in Michigan, and they drove with me once a week to play up there. It was a three-hour drive in each direction. I never would have been able to do it without them. Both of them have sacrificed a lot for me, so that I could be where I am today.
HF: What kinds of sports to you like to do when you are not playing hockey?
TH: I am a big fisherman. Two summers ago I bought a 14-foot aluminum boat and I take it out as much as I can. I also am really enjoying my workouts, so I work out in the mornings and do my fishing on the weekends in the summer. I started ice fishing last winter up here near Toronto and really had a good time too.
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