As he heads into his third pro season, 23-year-old left winger Brandon Prust hopes this is the year he cracks the Calgary roster full time. Prust will get off to a bit of a later start than some this fall after undergoing hip surgery in mid August. Hockey’s Future caught up with the spark plug forward while he recovered from the procedure at his London, Ontario home.
HF: You just underwent surgery on your hip. What’s the severity of the injury and how will it affect your training camp in the fall?
BP: I kind of hurt it just before playoffs last year, and because it was playoff time, it was something you kind of pushed through. We did that, and we were hoping it would heal up, but it didn’t. We tried to do rehab for a couple of months and nothing was really working, so we figured out I was going to need some surgery. I’m off the crutches now and walking around pretty well, so we’re hoping I should be able to make a couple of exhibition games later.
HF: You’re heading into your third pro season. There’s always so much to learn when you make the jump to the pro ranks. How have you changed as a player over the last couple of years?
BP: Just learning to skate at the pro level, and learning the systems of the pro level. Becoming a man, and living and cooking on your own. It kind of makes a man out of you pretty quickly, and you realize that this is your job and you have to concentrate. Every day you have to come to the rink and it’s like going to work. There’s really no days off. You’re always taking care of yourself. Also the experience of the guys you’re playing against. You’re playing against a lot of older guys, bigger guys, smarter and faster. You have to adjust quickly, and if you don’t, you’re not going to last too long.
HF: It’s a big jump for anyone at the best of times, but coming out of an organization like London, do you feel you were better prepared than most? The list of players to come out of the Knights system the last four or five years is remarkable.
BP: Yeah, they’ve got a good thing going here in London. It was certainly awesome to be able to play in my hometown and having Dale Hunter as a coach. He’s a guy who played 19 years in the NHL and was a captain of his team. He kind of rubbed that off on a lot of his players. When I came here [London], I learned so much about the game and it really helped me move forward, turning me into the player I am.
HF: You were called up to the Flames for 10 games last season. What was your reaction when you got that call, and how did you feel when playing the first game?
BP: It was unreal. I remember I was just sitting at home and ended up getting the call. I got on the phone with my parents, and they were going crazy too so it was pretty cool. I played the first game in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, so it was only a couple of hours from home. I was able to get a lot of friends and family out there, and they all got to watch my first game. It was incredible and something I’ll never forget.
HF: Last year at Flames camp, the roster was almost set beforehand, and open spots were pretty much non-existent. This year, a few guys, including yourself, all have shots to eventually make this club at some point. That must be pretty exciting.
BP: Yeah it is. To know that sometimes there’s a lot of vets, you try not to get discouraged. But when you know in the back of your mind that there’s actually some spots open, it makes it that much better. You still have to go in with the same attitide though. You’re there to earn a spot or steal a spot, so that’s all I’m going to concentrate on, hopefully make a fast recovery and show them what I’ve got.
HF: When you do crack an NHL roster full-time, what capacity is it going to be in? What kind of player do you see yourself as?
BP: My style is more of an energy player. Hitting, crashing, banging, working along the wall and playing simple hockey. Getting pucks out, and getting pucks in. I can stick up for teammates when need be and can change momentum as well. I’m never going to go out and score 50 goals, but I can contribute as well.
HF: Have you had much interaction with Mike Keenan yet? What are your thoughts on the coaching change?
BP: I think he’s a good fit for Calgary. He kind of fits the mold of that team. He’s hard-nosed, and that’s what the team is all about, working hard and getting in there and getting dirty. That’s something he demands of his players, and that’s something Calgary needs. I met him when I was out there for rookie camp in July, and he seems like a really nice guy. I think it should be good for Calgary.
Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.