Q&A with Scott Balan

By Holly Gunning

Scott Balan has split time between the AHL and ECHL this season, with<br />the Norfolk Admirals and Florence Pride

Scott Balan was a fourth round pick of the Chicago
Blackhawks in 2000 out of the WHL.  Last
year the 6’3” 210-pound defenseman spent most of his rookie season with Roanoke
of the ECHL, with 15 games played in the AHL in Norfolk as well. In 2003-04,
Balan has played 22 games in the AHL, and 34 in the ECHL with the new affiliate
Florence Pride.  The 21-year-old has one
point with Norfolk, and eleven with the Pride.


Hockey’s Future spoke with Balan following the Pride’s 2-1
shootout loss to Gwinnett on Tuesday. 


HF: How do you think your season is going so far?

SB: Pretty good, not 100 percent the way I want it.  I really wanted to stay in Norfolk in the
American League this year, but Chicago’s got a lot of good prospects this year
and a lot of them are in Norfolk. 
They’re doing really well this year, so I guess I’ll put my time in down
here and we’ll make the best of it. 


HF: How did it go when you were up, do you feel you played

SB: Yeah, I felt like I played really well.  I thought I came a long way since last
year.  [Coach] Trent Yawney and [GM] Al
MacIsaac told me that, and just to keep it up and keep improving down here, and
my time will come.


HF: You got a lot of ice time tonight because of a short

SB: It was good, I like it. 
We work out a lot in the summer for this time of the year when guys
might be hurt and you’re down some people. 
It helps a lot to stick it out in these long games and down the stretch
for the playoffs.


HF: Everyone had to play in all situations tonight, but
do you usually play the power play and penalty kill?

SB: When I was in junior I played both, last year I didn’t
play [power play] too much because the team had some pretty good guys who had
always played, and they were a little older. 
So I played just penalty kill mostly. 
But we’re down a couple guys at this point of the season and coach had
enough confidence in me to put me on the power play and fortunately for me I’ve
had a few points on it. 


HF: I heard that [Vladimir] Gusev was injured today in
practice, can you explain what happened?

SB: Yeah, that was unfortunate today, which is why we’re
down some guys again.  This morning we
were doing a drill and we were going pretty hard, and not really keeping your
head up because there’s not too many guys in the drill.  So they [Gusev and Matt Reid] were just
swinging and kind of collided. Reid’s helmet broke and who knows how bad it is,
but they thought it would be better for them to sit out tonight. 


HF: So it was helmet on helmet?

SB: Pretty much, yeah. 
It was pretty quick, pretty hard. Reid has a cut on his eye and Gusev
was a little groggy so it was better to leave them back today.


HF: It’s not a concussion?

SB:  No, we don’t
know how severe it is, but his vision was a little blurry. 


HF: Who is your normal defensive partner?

SB: Pretty much everybody. 
We juggle it around a little bit. 
We just go with whoever is out there. We’re kind of odd, a lot of times
we have five or six guys and one might be up at forward.  Guys are used to playing both sides.  I’m pretty comfortable with both sides.  It’s not a big deal to me. 


HF: How did Blackhawk training camp go for you this year
compared to last year?

SB: Last year was my first time on skates after my knee
surgery, so it was a little tough trying to get through that.  The guys, how big they are and their
speed.  But this year was a lot better,
I got to work out a lot this summer and strengthen it and it helped me keep up
this year pretty good.


HF: What exactly happened with your knee?

SB: My last year of junior around Christmas I got in a knee
on knee collision.  Tore my ACL, MCL, a
couple tendons. It was pretty bad.


HF: Do you feel like it’s back completely?

SB: Oh yeah, 100 percent.


HF: Did Chicago tell you what to work on when you left camp
this year?

SB: Not really, they said it was pretty good.  I got in an exhibition game up there.  I thought I played pretty good.  They didn’t say too much, just keeping
growing I guess.  It takes time for
defensemen to grow, a little longer than forwards.  Keep growing, get confidence and come back next year.


HF: What do you feel like you still need to work on then?

SB: Everything.  I
think I need to work on everything to make it to that level, like a lot of
people in this league.


HF: For example?

SB: Just positioning, and making the first pass out of the
zone.  Make the right play and make it
quick.  That’s all they need from me,
make the first pass and keep it real simple. 


HF: When you were up in the AHL, you played with
[goaltender] Adam Munro some.  How was
he playing?

SB: He was great. 
Unfortunately I was sent down before he was able to sign.  But at that point he wasn’t playing as
much.  Leighton was playing a little
more.  But good for him because he was
playing well when he played in Norfolk. 
He got a lot of wins for us. 


HF: What are your goals for this season and next?

SB: This season we’re teetering on a playoff spot, so
getting our guys back as soon as we can and get some wins, that’s the biggest
thing I want to accomplish. Spot in Norfolk, it’s pretty tough to get back up
there.  Here, keep doing the same thing
and try to get a playoff spot.  Next
year, I don’t know with the lockout and all that with the NHL, but I have another
year on my contract, so I want to hopefully get a spot all year in the American
League and try to stick there.