Q&A with Guillaume Desbiens

By Holly Gunning

Guillaume Desbiens had 41 points and 199 penalty minutes in 58 games with Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL in 2003-04. He was a fourth round pick of the Thrashers in 2003. The 19-year-old right winger is a native of Alma, Quebec.

Hockey’s Future spoke with Desbiens at the Thrashers Prospect Development Camp, the second he has attended.

HF: How do you feel like camp is going for you this year?
GD: It’s going a lot better than last year. Obviously I knew what’s going on since my last year’s experience, so I prepared myself a lot better for this camp so that’s probably why it’s going better.

HF: How did you go about preparing yourself?
GD: I started training a little bit earlier this year to be bigger and stronger for the camp. I was more on the ice than off the ice.

HF: Did you do more cardio, because last year you looked a little out of breath.
GD: Yes. I didn’t do more, but starting my training earlier helped me a lot with my cardio. I probably did harder stuff too, so that helped me a lot.

HF: What has been the toughest part of camp this year?
GD: The toughest thing was probably the off-ice training. For sure The Mountain was pretty hard, but it’s just 45 seconds of hard work, so that’s worth it.

HF: What exactly are they having you do that’s the toughest, cardio or lifting?
GD: Probably the cardio part. Our bike program is pretty hard. Ray Bear is trying to help us a lot, but it’s pretty hard. We were running a lot at the track out here at a high school early in the morning. It’s so humid!

HF: Did you feel like last year’s camp was helpful for you as you went through last season?
GD: Yeah, sure. It was more the NHL training camp with pro players though. It was harder than the summer camp. This year, summer camp is a lot harder than last year and it’s a lot of the same things as the pro camp.

HF: How about the power skating part in particular, did you find that helpful last year?
GD: Yeah, it was helpful, but the guy this year (Kenny McCudden) is better I think. He’s working with small groups, two or three players in the middle of the ice during the practice. It’s more focused on your own difficulties and what you need to work on.

HF: What did he tell you today?
GD: I’m taking my skates too high (demonstrating) and I have to keep it low so I won’t work for nothing.

HF: You’re kicking up too high?
GD: Yeah, I’m kicking up too high. He wants me to just keep it on the ice so I won’t lose energy.

HF: Your offensive numbers really improved this year with Rouyn-Noranda, was it mainly because you got more ice time?
GD: Yeah, sure, the first year, before I was drafted, I was playing on the fourth line with a couple players who weren’t giving much offensive production. It was more checking the other team’s first line. But this year I had a lot more ice time, I was on the power play and PK, so I had more responsibility and that was good for me.

HF: Are you the only tough guy on your team right now?
GD: No, we had one but he got cut from the team at Christmas and we had a defenseman who was injured in the shoulder. Last year was a little bit harder for me because I was probably the only guy on the team who was fighting, but we had some injuries so when our defenseman comes back it’s going to help me so I will be more focused on my offensive production to help the team.

HF: Did the Thrashers tell you not to fight at prospect camp?
GD: No, but it’s kind of obvious that you won’t fight here, it’s your teammates. I don’t know why we would fight (laughing). Things happen during practice, or in any camp, you’re tired. Like last practice. High-sticking and things like that. You just don’t want to fight here.

HF: In NHL camps though, some people fight because they’re trying to make the team.
GD: Even at the Thrashers (main) camp, they don’t want people to fight during the intra-squad games. That’s your teammate. Keep your energy for during the preseason games with other teams. You don’t want to fight here. You can prove yourself other than by fighting with your teammates. But, sometimes things happen.

HF: What’s the funniest thing someone has ever said to you to start a fight?
GD: I had this guy last year, we were at the faceoff and he had the same number as me (12), so he said ‘You have the same number as me, I want to fight you to prove to you that I deserve this number.’ I was like ‘What? You want to fight me because I have the same number as you?’ (laughing) I was like ‘OK, let’s go.’ It was funny. Last year also with the Gatineau Olympiques, Dominic D’Amour, we were fighting every single game. During one game we didn’t fight, so the next game we fought twice. It was pretty funny. All of my teammates were asking me ‘Are you going to fight him today?’ For sure, we’re going to fight.

HF: Do the two of you ever talk off the ice?
GD: Obviously when you fight someone, you’re in the penalty box after so you talk to them. You don’t get involved in a relationship, but you respect them because they are doing the same job as you.

HF: But you two aren’t friends.
GD: Some of my teammates know him, but no he’s not one of my friends. I used to hate him so it’s pretty hard to have fun with him (laughing).

HF: Is it tough to fight against someone you know and like?
GD: It’s tough but what happens on the ice stays on the ice, and what happens off the ice is off the ice. One of my buddies was playing for Val D’Or, which is about an hour away. He was one of my very good friends. We used to fight not every game but almost. We respect each other and when we’re fighting, no cheapshots, and when we’re off the ice, we’re still friends.

HF: Would you talk about the fighting outside the rink though?
GD: It’s funny, yes (laughing). When we were at dinner or something, going out, we always said like ‘I won this fight’, and the other would say ‘No, there’s no way you won this one!’ (laughing)

HF: But you wouldn’t talk strategy with him though, right?
GD: Not strategy, no, no. We never talked about it. We knew what to do to fight.

HF: What do your teammates call you?
GD: Here they try to pronounce my name and it’s pretty hard so they’re just making fun of my name (laughing). In Rouyn-Noranda, it’s simply ‘Desb’ (pronounced Dayb).

HF: What do you think is the biggest thing you think you need to work on in your game?
GD: I talked with Dan Marr (Director of Amateur Scouting), and he told me to work on my core, my stability, to have more balance so when I get one on one and I crash the net I will stay on my feet and not fall and try to put the puck in the net when someone is hitting me at the same time. I have to work on my abs and other core stuff to be stronger in this part of my body.

HF: You seem like you have no fear crashing the net at all.
GD: No, I have no fear, but sometimes someone crosschecks me so I have to improve my balance. Two years ago I had to improve my skating ability, my explosions, my first two or three steps. I did it. So this year Dan Marr told me to improve my balance and I will. I still have two more months to work before the season starts. There probably won’t be a pro camp this year so I will be on my own longer and have more time to work on my stuff.

HF: What’s your goal for next year?
GD: As a player, I would like to improve my statistics offensively, and work on what the Thrashers told me. If I can improve that, maybe they will sign me. That’s the goal, obviously I want to play in the NHL. So I’m going to improve on what they told me to. As a team, I think we have a great team this year. The first two lines are going to be very good. We have a good chance to win the Memorial Cup and that’s our goal for next year.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.