Q&A with Jon Kalinski

By Holly Gunning

After a breakout 2006-07 season at Minnesota State-Mankato in which he had 17 goals, 10 assists and 74 penalty minutes in 37 games, the Philadelphia Flyers drafted the 20-year-old Jon Kalinski in the sixth round in 2007.  So far this year he has two goals and eight penalty minutes in six games as a junior.  Before Minnesota State, he played two years in the AJHL for Bonnyville.

Hockey’s Future spoke to the 6’1 winger after a weekend match-up against the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

HF: You’re a long way from home this weekend – Alberta to Alabama.
JK: Yeah, I don’t know what the miles are, but it’s quite a ways.

HF: Do you think you’ve ever been so far away to play hockey?

JK: I think Alabama’s the farthest from home, yeah.  Alaska’s a pretty far trip.  I guess we went out east last year to play Yale and that was pretty far.

HF: Was the ice OK out there today?

JK: I think they had a Willy Nelson concert and it got pretty chopped up, but they took care of it and it wasn’t bad.

HF: Getting drafted by Philly last year, did it come as a big shock or had you talked to them before?

JK: I never talked to them, but my family adviser, he was sorta saying something about it.  I was an overager to get drafted so I wasn’t expecting much, or even if I was going to be drafted.  Obviously it’s a dream come true of mine to be drafted.  It kind of caught me off guard.

HF: So what did your adviser say before the draft, just that teams were interested?

JK: Yeah, he said that there were a couple team that had been talking to him and showed some interest.  Going in there I was sorta hoping it would happen.  I got a call Saturday, it was Philly and they had drafted me.  So it was pretty exciting.

HF: When you were 18 and didn’t get drafted, were you even disappointed at that point or didn’t you think you were on the radar?
JK: Well, I was on Central Scouting, but I was playing juniors then, my name got tossed around, but I never heard from anybody or anything like that.  I didn’t get drafted – it’s not the end of the world for me and then I went to Minnesota another year, didn’t get drafted again and in my final year I sort put it together and teams were interested so I got lucky.

HF: You said you put it together – why did things suddenly click for you?
JK: I don’t know, some guys moved on from out ream, which made an opportunity for me to play every game, with lots of ice time and I ended up playing with Travis Morin (WAS) and he was a great help to me, great teammate.  I guess we just sort of clicked.  I got lucky and I got some goals and put some points on the board.

HF: You also put on weight that year, do you think that was a factor too?

JK: Um, yeah, when I came in I was pretty skinny, like 170, and my coach told me I’d have to work hard in the summer and get stronger, get a little bit bigger.  That might have helped me play better – I was stronger on the puck. 

HF: You still look kind of skinny.
JK: Oh thanks! (laughing)

HF: So what’s your weight right now?
JK: I’m almost up to 185.

HF: What do you think your ideal weight is?
JK: Hopefully I can get about 190-195, somewhere in that range.

HF: Are you of a body type where you have a hard time putting weight on? 
JK: No, I don’t know, right before juniors, I was 5’10 if that, and then I sort of got a growth spurt.  In the last couple years I think I hit my max, and started putting on weight now.

HF: So would you consider yourself a late bloomer then?
JK: I think so, if that’s how you’re gonna put it.  I wasn’t really in the spotlight when I was younger.  In my hometown, I put up some numbers, but going to juniors I wasn’t a big name or anything and I just barely made the team.  Over two years there, I started to get more ice time and then I got a scholarship here. I didn’t play a whole lot freshman year, but the next year I had an opportunity, so yeah, I guess a little bit of a late bloomer.

HF: Did you learn anything at Philly conditioning camp in July that you’ve put into practice?

JK: Yeah, we just went over some of their schemes and they put us through some workouts. When you get up there you gotta be conditioned.  They have some exercises on their website and I look at that.  But right now we sort of have a team thing (at Mankato), so I imagine this summer I’m going to talk to the (Philly) trainer and he’s gonna get me on something.

HF: I saw someone describe you as a pest – would that be fair?
JK: Yeah, that’s fair enough for me. I don’t really care what they say (laughing).  But I like to go around, I like to hit people, I like to cause trouble.  It’s not my game to sit and be quiet.  I like to get in the mix, and I like to put up points.  Whatever they want to label me I’m fine with as long as the team’s winning.

HF: Where do most of your penalty minutes come from?

JK: I’d say a lot of hitting, stuff like that.  Freshman year I got two hitting from behinds.  I’ve got to cut down on those and I think I have.  I think just playing rough.  I don’t take that many hooking or slashing.

HF: Do you think getting drafted gave you a lot of confidence this year?
JK: I dunno.  It helps a bit.  It’s not like it was the biggest thing for me to get drafted.  It’s obviously an honor to be drafted by the Flyers, but if I hadn’t been, I’d still play the same, still play my game.

HF: Maybe just having a good year last year gave you confidence?

JK: Yeah, obviously anytime you put up points, it carries through the season.

HF: What major have you decided on?
JK: Sports management.  I’m not gonna lie, I’m not the biggest guy on school.  I just got a scholarship here and I just try to get through school and make the best out of it.  So I’m taking sports management and I don’t mind it so far.

HF: So if you’re not the biggest guy on school, should we look for you turning pro early?

JK: No, nothing like that.  I’ll do school, it’s not like it kills me to do school.  I do it and get though it – hopefully I can get my degree in four years.  We’ll see what happens.

HF: If the Flyers wanted you to turn pro early, would you be against that?

JK: If they wanted me, it’d be an honor to go, but if they think I need another year I’m fine with that, I’ll just keeping playing my game and hopefully the next year after that [be signed].

Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future.  Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.