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In an effort to connect the hockey community with the pros, ProVision Hockey sat down with some of the top players and coaches in the NHL and NWHL for a short Q&A.

 
 
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BRENDEN DILLON - SAN JOSE SHARKS

Q. What would you want to tell your younger self about hockey?

A. I would want to tell myself that all the hard work was beyond worth it. Those coaches that cut you, those trainers that doubted you, those agents that wouldn't call you back, that it was all worth it. Never forget that feeling because that's what has gotten you to where you're at now and will help you get to where you want to go.

Q. What sets hockey aside from other sports?

A. I think what sets hockey aside from other sports is just how much of a team game and effort it really takes to win. As much as it's individual skills and many individual battles needed in order to score and win games, the ultimate thing at least for me that I take pride in is being the best individual player I can for my team and seeing the rewards we are able to share in as a group.

Q. What was your first memory in organized hockey?

A. First memory in organized hockey was my first season at a rink in Delta GPF by my house. I remember my dad saying whatever games I scored a goal in that season I'd get to go to Toys R Us and get whatever toy I wanted. I chose a Nerf Gun which at age 6 I'll always remember. I don't think I even took it out of the box, just kept it in my room on a shelf as a trophy per say and was so pumped!

Q. Who was your favorite athlete growing up? Why?

A. Favorite athlete growing up was probably Roger Federer. Loved how he was so good at his craft and didn't matter the kind of opponent, he was always able to adapt and beat their style. Also he just has been so good for so long. Tough to do in that sport in this day and age which is a credit to him and how hard he works. Bobby Orr, which is why I wear number 4 was probably my favorite hockey player up until I started watching Shea Weber in the present day NHL.


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LAWRENCE FELONEY - NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Q. What sets hockey aside from other sports?

A. It’s the ultimate team sport in my opinion. NHL players are as selfless, humble and as down to earth as any pro athletes you’ll find.

Q. What would you want to tell your younger self about hockey?

A. It’s a great game. Play it for as long as you can. More often than not your career will probably come to an end before you have a chance to play in the NHL. Stay involved anyway you can. If you love the game enough there are jobs out there that can lead to a career in hockey.

Q. If you weren’t a player/coach, what would you want to be? Why? 

A. An NHL referee or linesman. People might think I’m crazy but I’ve got lots of respect for those guys and how hard their job is. It’s about a close of a gig as you can get to playing/coaching and you are right in the middle of everything. They stay in great shape and they get paid well.

Q. What does it mean to represent your country in international hockey? 

A. My first and only opportunity came as video coordinator with the US Men’s National Team at the World Championships in Minsk in 2014. It was a pretty remarkable life experience to have the opportunity to be of something on that scale. It was also a terrific coaching experience to deal with the European influence of a bigger ice surface and it was also eye opening to see that there are some really talented players internationally that aren’t playing in the NHL.

Q. What one piece of advice would you offer younger players?

A. Work hard, practice hard and stay humble.  Be well rounded. You can play other sports. Hockey doesn’t have to be a 365 day a year commitment at a young age.


NICK FOLIGNO - COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Q. Who was your favorite athlete growing up? Why?

A. Michael Jordan. His legend to me was so fascinating to witness at a young age. He wasn’t just a superstar he was “the star” of sports and the way he played the game and commanded the game was truly amazing to witness even in a sport completely different from mine.

Q. Who had the greatest influence in your hockey development? Why?

A. Obviously I was fortunate to have a father who played in the NHL and coached. So my dad was a huge influence in my hockey career. I was able to get information anytime I needed it, sometimes with out even asking for it haha. He helped pave the way for my love of the game mostly. I think it could have been different if my dad and whole family for that matter didn’t teach me the love of the game first. Then from there I was able to make my own commitment and work to attain my goals because I loved the game so much.

Q. What was your first memory in organized hockey?

A. First memory was playing at the old Buffalo Auditorium between periods of a Sabres game. It was the first time I was on the ice in an actual game in that environment and I’ll never forget the rush I got when I was 4 or 5 skating around the ice that I watched my favorite players play on. I was hooked ever since.

Q. Who mentored you at the beginning of your pro career?

A. There was a lot of people. I think I really gravitated towards Redden, Alfredsson and Fisher in Ottawa when I first got there. I was so impressed always in their professionalism. I think I learned and sometimes the hard way of what it meant to be a “pro” I got first hand looks at how these guys prepared on and off the ice!  It was pretty amazing and I definitely owe them a lot for how they molded me.

Q. What is your favorite thing to do during the offseason?

A. Fish or just be on the water watching my kids on the water or around our home. I’m very family oriented so I really enjoy the time I get to spend with them but if it’s not with them then I’d love to be fishing.


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SAM FABER - CONNECTICUT WHALE

Q. Do you have any hockey superstitions or have a teammate with one?

A. I have to be the last one out of the locker room and off the ice during games! I also have some handshakes with some of my teammates.

Q. What would you want to tell your younger self about hockey?

A. I would tell my younger self that this sport will give you all the tools to be successful in life. This sport will give you life long friendships and give you a family outside of your family for your whole career and beyond.

Q. What one piece of advice would you offer younger players?

A. I would say watch as much pro hockey as you can. The pros didn't get there for any reason they know what they are doing, so focus on them and implement it into your own game. Obviously have fun out there and always love and appreciate what the sport of hockey does for you as a person, teammate and player.

Q. Who was your favorite athlete growing up? Why?

A. I loved Paul Kariya. Kariya was smaller in the NHL, but so skilled and smooth and such a great leader.

Q. What was your first memory in organized hockey?

A. My earliest memory of organized hockey was that I was the only girl on an all boys team. It made me the player I am today and I am feisty and tough because of having to stand up to the boys for so many years of my childhood.


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CHRIS WIDEMAN - OTTAWA SENATORS

Q. What sets hockey aside from other sports?

A. Hockey is a 2 component sport. Skating and Hockey. Skating at the level that NHL players do is almost insane if you sit back and think about it. The hockey component gets more skilled every year. Imagine Mitch Marner playing in the 80’s?

Q. What was your first memory in organized hockey?

A. I remember being given the number 16, Brett Hull was my hockey idol, I was so fired up!

Q. Who mentored you at the beginning of your pro career?

A. Dion Phaneuf has been extremely helpful during my NHL career. He’s a veteran that has seen a lot during his 12 year career. Nate Thompson, Derick Brassard and Mark Stone are also great resources for me.

Q. How did family help you excel on and off the ice?

A. My mom always used to say “If you tell yourself you’ll be great, you will be great”. It’s simple but something I still think about. She like the rest of my family has provided so much support and belief in me, it’s nice to be able to host them during the season and see the joy in their eyes when they get to see games.

Q. If you weren’t a player, what would you want to be? Why?

A. I have always been interested in sports broadcasting. I love sports and think there are so many talented broadcasters that make the games and events so much more than sports.


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KEVAN MILLER - BOSTON BRUINS

Q. How did family help you excel on and off the ice?

A. Like all hockey families, everyone sacrifices a lot in order to play the game. Having the support of my parents throughout my career has been a true blessing.

Q. What would you want to tell your younger self about hockey?

A. Enjoy every shift, it goes by quick.

Q. If you weren’t a player/coach, what would you want to be?

A. Serve in the military. There is no higher honor then to serve your country, I am very thankful for all of those who have served and continue to.

Q. Do you have any hockey superstitions or have a teammate with one?

A. I always put my gear on right side first.

Q. What one piece of advice would you offer younger players?

A. There will be ups and downs throughout your career. Don’t view failure as a negative, learn from your mistakes and continue to move forward.