Wednesday, June 23, 2010
A surprising end to a beyond enjoyable conversation. Athletes today can be very boring at times, relying on cliches when answering questions.
Luke Moffatt is different. He had some of my favorite quotes of all the recent interviews I've done leading up to the draft. Saying "Let's show 'em who's boss!" when talking about playing for Team USA is sure to become an instant classic.
The kid is real. And in a world full of highly polished, generic robots he stands out.
He also values a toothbrush. The ladies will appreciate that.
Luke is currently ranked #95 by NHL Central Scouting, down from 75 at the mid-term rankings. This has been a fairly consistent theme of his the last few years - dropping from mega-hype as the 2nd overall pick in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft (by the Kelowna Rockets) to this weekend, where he'll probably be selected in the middle rounds. Don't count him out though. Hockey's Future projects him a second line center and there are scouts that still believe in him. Is he the sleeper of the draft?
Earlier this week he caught up with The Mayor to talk hockey, the Phoenix Coyotes, the University of Michigan and...well, the real highlights were probably when they weren't talking hockey at all...
First off, who got you started in hockey?
My dad. Growing up in Phoenix, it's not exactly a hockey hot bed. But, my dad is form Vancouver, so he's played hockey is whole life...even into college. He drove me to a play a lot of sports and hockey was just one that stuck. I've loved it ever since.
From what I've read, at 15 you were one of the best players in the world in your age bracket. When did you start to realize "Hey, people are really starting to pay attention to me?"
Probably about a year before that. The Bantam draft in the WHL. I was playing up in Canada a lot with my Phoenix team and I was better than most of the other kids. So, some of the Canadian hockey teams were interested in me. That's when I realized and was like "Hey, let's make this happen."
Opinions seem to vary on when you'll be taken in the draft, with it looking like anywhere from the 3rd round on...that's a pretty big window...what are your expectations for this weekend?
I'm going in with an open mind. I'm sure I'll get drafted somewhere. It's just...I don't know...I'll be fine whether I get drafted or not. Obviously, I want to get drafted. It's a tough question really.
Being from Arizona were you closely following the drama surrounding the Coyotes organization last summer or were you too focused on your own situation?
Well, I was focused on doing my own stuff. But, I was following it. I'm a Coyotes fan. There was a lot of drama, but it all paid off for them this year - making it to the playoffs.
For those that don't know you've been part of the Team USA developmental program. What does it mean to you personally to play for your country?
You lace it up for more than yourself when you put the jersey on. It's for your neighbors, it's for your family, it's for your school, it's for your state, it's for the country. Especially playing in international tournaments, it's a big deal. You really realize it when you go out there against somebody like Sweden or Slovakia...and you're like "Wow! I'm representing my country. Let's show 'em who's boss. We're America!"
Talk about moving to Michigan. What's been the best part about relocating and what's been the most challenging?
One of the best parts has been that my family moved with me and supports me. Also, being able to play with some of the top players in the nation and against the top players in the world...it's been awesome. The hardest part...really, it hasn't been that hard. I'm pretty outgoing, I like meeting new people so school wasn't that hard. And hockey is my life.
So you've played with a large number of the American players that are expected to be drafted this weekend. In your opinion, who is the best forward and who is the best defenseman of that group?
In my opinion, Jason Zucker is probably our best forward that's going to get drafted. He's a great kid on and off the ice. A lot of hard work and everything. I expect him to go high in the draft. (note: we'll have an interview with Zucker up tomorrow)
On defense, our whole d-core was unbelievable. All the guys from that group that are draft eligible are probably going to be picked up in the first two rounds - Tinordi, Forbort, Johns, Merrill and Faulk. They're all great players, so it's hard to pick out just one of those guys. (note: we'll have an interview with Stephen Johns up tomorrow)
You're starting at the University of Michigan in the fall. What's been the most surprising thing you've learned about the history of Wolverines hockey?
I knew it was a good program, a top program. But, I never knew how much tradition and history there is there - like, they've won the most National Championships, they've sent the most players to the NHL - both currently and all-time. Plus, Red Berenson, the coach there, is unbelievable. He's coached for god knows how many years...and how many more years to come. So, the history and tradition of the school, it just amazes me.
Let's try something different... If you received a phone call saying you had to leave your house in five minutes and could never go back...what would be the three things you would have to take with you and why?
That's tough. No joke, probably one of my hockey sticks. I'd also take my cellphone and my toothbrush. I'd feel like I could do anything would those three things.
Excluding NHL players past or present, who would be one celebrity or sports figure you'd like to play hockey with?
Adam Sandler hands down. I can just imagine him lining up for a slapper. Definitely, Adam Sandler.
When you make your pro debut, what number do you hope to be wearing? And what's the significance of that number?
I'd want to wear #7 becuase Keith Tkachuk was my role model growing up. He's friends with my dad, so I was able to know him as a person too. I've worn #7 most of my career and it would be a dream to wear it in the NHL.
Who is the hardest hitter you've ever faced?
Probably one of my buddies from Phoenix, Kyle Verdino. He plays up in Swift Current now in the WHL. I played with him for about four years when we were younger. One time he clocked me in practice and I had to get staples put in my chin.
Who is the best goalie you've ever faced?
Jack Campbell, for sure. He's just so competitive. He'll go high at the draft too.
Metallica or Jay-Z?
World Cup or World Curling Championships?
Gretzky or Lemieux?
It's tough not to say Gretzky, but I have to say Lemieux. Wayne was the best of the best, but I just like Mario's style.
Outside of hockey related activities, what one thing takes up the most of your time on a daily basis?
Biking. I road bike and mountain bike every week. I'm really into it.
If somebody was to write a book about your life up to this point in time, what would the title be?
The Adventures of Luke
What's your least favorite sport and why?
Baseball. I played it for about 10 years growing up and I think it is the most boring sport EVER. I played third base, so I got like one ball a game. It's just so boring. I can't watch it. It's horrible.
What one thing do most coaches or scouts tell you that you still need to work on?
My head for the game. Just getting to know the game better I'd say. Each level is faster and faster, so adapting to that is probably my biggest thing.
If you had to pick one player as your biggest rival so far, who would it be?
Anthony Hamburg. He was drafted last year (by the Wild), he's a year older than me. We always played against each other growing up and kinda hated each other.
The draft is in LA, which is a town full of celebrities...which celebrity have people said you look like?
What's the best looking celebrity there?
Most people would probably say Brad Pitt.
Let's go with that then.
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Spend ten minutes with Luke and you can't wait to see where his adventures take him next. He's one to keep an eye on.
I guess for now it's like Jack Johnson always says - Go Big Blue!
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Other Draft 2010 links of interest on Mayors Manor:
Interview with Brandon Underwood
Interview with Charlie Coyle
Interview with Taylor Aronson
Interview with Ivan Telegin
Interview with Brandon Archibald