Q&A with Noah Clarke

By John Logue

Noah Clarke was ninth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 1999<br />entry draft

Noah Clarke was
ninth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 1999 Entry Draft. After four years at Colorado
, Clarke is playing in his
first season for the Kings AHL affiliate the Manchester Monarchs. He made the AHL All-Star team and was recently
named AHL player of the week for the week ending February 22nd. He was recently
called up for his first NHL game.

HF: Growing up in Southern California, how did you first become a hockey fan?
NC: My dad has Kings season tickets through his work. We had a couple of hockey
sticks around the house my sisters and I would play for fun. We started skating
at a rink inside the Brea Mall. We really enjoyed it, my sisters started
figure skating and I started playing hockey.

HF: Did you have any favorite Kings
players growing up?

NC: Luc Robitaille was one of my favorites and Corey Millen.

HF: When did you first start playing in
organized hockey?

NC: I started skating when I was five and then played the next year when I was
six years old.

HF: When did turning pro first cross
your mind?

NC: When I got drafted. I had just finished playing juniors in Des
Moines.  Obviously you dream when you are young about playing
professionally, but when I got the scholarship to Colorado. I thought it
if I could put together four good years maybe I can take the next step and play
pro hockey.

HF: How excited were you when you were
picked by the Kings, the team you grew up rooting for?

NC: It was awesome, I didn’t really expect to even get drafted and then to be
taken by LA was just an extra perk.

HF: When you first started playing, did
players from other parts of the country treat you differently knowing you were
NC: Not so much now at this level, we all really respect each other. Growing up
playing on summer teams I’d be playing with kids from Boston, New York, or Canada,
when they would ask me where I was from I’d tell them California. They would
look at each other like they didn’t think they realized we had hockey out here.

HF: Do you think growing up in California hurt your draft position?
NC: I don’t know if that had much bearing on it. I was in Minnesota for a
couple of years and in Des Moines so I had played in some other places. I was
kind of a smaller guy and kind of a late
bloomer. I didn’t expect to even be drafted.

HF: How is
the AHL game different from the college game?

NC: In the WCHA, seven out of 10 rinks were Olympic size and no two-line
passes. Those were two things I had to get used to in pro. The rink is
tighter and the game is more positional, more trapping and a little more
defensive-minded. The college game is more up and down and run and gun.

HF: You got selected to the All -tar
team, won the fastest skater competition there and were just recently named AHL
player of the week. Not bad for first year player from
NC: I’ve just had a blast out here, it’s a great group of guys. The coach
has been great, he’s allowed me to play on the penalty
kill and powerplay. Getting named to the All-Star team was exciting for me. My
parents were there so it was a thrill for them too. It’s been a pretty good
month for me. Hopefully I can keep it going.


HF: When
you were told the Kings were calling you up earlier this season, what was the
first thing that went through your mind?

NC: I was at home on a Sunday and got the call I didn’t know what to think. I
had so many emotions going through my head. I had about a half hour to get
ready, so it was like panic-nervous. What do I take? What do I bring? I called
my parents and a couple of other people. When I got on the airplane, I could
finally relax and think "Man I got called up” and what an honor and thrill
it was.

HF: It had to be a dream come true to
play your first NHL game in
Los Angeles as a King but also in the vintage purple and gold
NC: Those were the jerseys the Kings wore when I first started watching them,
the majority of the years we had season tickets. I think have a few of the
purple and gold jerseys floating around my garage somewhere. But to put that
jersey on and have all of my family and friends there was unbelievable.

HF: You mentioned earlier that Luc
Robitaille was one of your favorite players growing up. How excited were you to play in the same game
on the same team as him?

NC: It was unbelievable. When I saw him in the lockerroom,
I thought there’s a guy I used to admire growing up. Playing in the same game
as him was just wild.

HF: How do
you think your brief stint in the NHL has helped your game?

NC: I saw how good those guys really are and the work ethic and work habits of
guys in the pros like Palffy and Stumpel. It gives you a perspective of what
you need to do to get better and encouraged me to work even harder to get back
to that level