In part two of our Q/A with Andrew Gordon (part one can be read here), Gordo discusses his favorite NHL players and teams as a kid, if he reads blogs or newspaper articles about himself and what he did on his day with the Calder Cup this year. Mixed in is also a question submitted from a 9 year old reader, Cody, who asks Gordo what he thinks it would take for him to make it to the NHL someday.
In conclusion, all of us here at RMNB hope that you have enjoyed Andrew’s insightful responses to your questions over the past two days and his blogging throughout the Calder Cup Finals. Please join us in wishing him good luck for the upcoming season and a successful training camp. With that said, let’s get started with our first question.
Bill C. asks, “Andrew, who was your favorite player as a kid growing up and why?”
Thanks for the question, Bill. As a kid growing up I had all kinds of guys I really looked up to. When I became old enough to really follow hockey and understand the game, it was the 1992-93 season and I was 8 years old. This may have been the year that hockey took over my life, as my favorite team (brace yourself people…and I apologize in advance) the Montreal Canadians won the Stanley Cup and Teemu Selanne scored 76 goals on his way to a record-setting rookie season. Seeing as my father grew up in Winnipeg, the Jets were the other team I followed closely. So Teemu became my instant favorite. My father and I actually went to see a game in Winnipeg that season where the Jets faced Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings. Although I don’t remember all the details of the game (aside from Seleane getting two goals), I remember being amazed by the stadium and the fact that the guys on the ice were real live NHL players! In the same room as me! It was a day I hope I never forget.
As I grew older (and Seleane got traded from the Jets to the Ducks), I grew fond of various different players. I always loved the character guys who were known as all around players and were more than just pure skill guys. I liked Kirk Muller, Cam Neely, Trevor Linden and Steve Yzerman to name a few. I always believed that there is a big difference between the kind of player you want to have on your team, and the kind of player you need on your team. Teams need leaders. Guys with guts. I wanted to be a player that is known for performing when the chips are down the way these guys were. I watched them carefully and learned how much every game and every shift seemed to mean to them. The way they played the game inspired those around them. It wasn’t because of their ability; It was because of their attitude and determination. Guys with skills and character were always my favorite players growing up instead of the guys constantly in the spotlight.
Meghan H. of The Hockey Chronicles asks, “Gordo, now that you’ve written for a blog, I feel we should ask if you (as some Caps prospects, e.g. Dmitry Kugryshev, have been known to in the past) read blogs and other internet news sources about yourself? Or do you prefer, like many people, to keep away from them (and their often negative) opinions?
Hi Meghan! I personally will read something here and there, but pretty much only if I stumble across it. I will never go buy a newspaper to see what somebody said about me. In all honesty though, I find it’s better to leave the media to the fans and worry about what’s going on inside the dressing room. No matter what you read, I feel it can do you no good as a player. If you read all kinds of good press about yourself, you might start to feel like you’re something special. Your habits might change, even just a little bit, and that can be enough to change your focus. Every player at some point is written about and glorified as a sure thing to play in the NHL. This just isn’t a reality. People in the media write articles so people will read them. They are not always that useful. I repeat, they are written for the interest of readers. Any topic that might get people’s attention is worth writing about. When articles are written about a team as a whole, the writers are sending the band wagon rolling down a hill with hopes of people jumping on. If you are winning, the team is great and all mighty. If they are losing, everybody becomes an armchair GM with a million things they would do differently. None of it matters to anybody in the dressing room.
As an individual player, you will never please everybody. Your style of play and what you bring to a team will never be recognized by fans and media officials the way it can be realized and appreciated by your teammates. If someone writes an article or posts something online about me that is negative, it will mean absolutely nothing. It won’t change the way I play, my attitude, work ethic, goals, dreams or any other aspect of my life whatsoever. At the end of the day it’s an article. It will be recycled in two days and forgotten about anyway, no matter if it’s good or bad. I always think about the people who write those negative comments or articles. 99.99% of the media that I have encountered have never played at this (or any) high level of hockey, so they don’t really know what it’s like out there on the ice. For an example, let’s say a defenseman tries to clear the puck and turns it over for a goal and the team loses as a result. The media has the right to talk about what a miserable play he made and how bad he has been playing for weeks, blah blah blah. Nobody at the game day media buffet could do any better. Yet they have the power to critique based on speculation as opposed to experience. Hockey is a game that can be learned, but without playing it you will never fully understand what it’s like. In my mind all that matters is what the players and coaches have to say.
Overall, I’m not afraid to read what’s written, but I understand what it is that I’m reading. Good or bad it always comes in one ear and out the other. It’s always nice to hear or see people saying nice things about you, don’t get me wrong. But I’m interested in what can help me make the NHL. Not a writer’s opinion of my personal play or that of my team. The media is an incredibly valuable means of exposing the game to fans and keeping people attached to hockey, but to me as a player, it has no direct benefit.
Bev asks, “Andrew, what did you end up doing the day you had the Calder Cup this year?
Bev, this year when I had the Calder Cup, my family had a little get together that we probably should have had last year but didn’t. Last summer, I had the Calder Cup just long enough to take a few pictures (which you can see on my facebook page) around my parent’s house and a nearby Nova Scotia Beach. Then I brought it over to Andrew Joudrey’s place where he in turn had a little open house. Friends and family members were welcome to drop by to take some pictures and see the trophy up close. This year we did something similar at our house. My mother did a wonderful job of organizing food and drinks for everyone on extremely short notice, then we had the majority of the neighborhood drop by to share a nice summer evening with the Cup. This included some close friends, neighbors and a couple old coaches from my minor hockey days. Nothing too crazy, but a fun get together with many of the people who have watched me grow up and helped raise me into the player and person that I am today. The next morning I handed it over to Andrew Joudrey yet again, and I haven’t seen it since!
Cody B. writes, “Andrew-I am 9 years old and learning to play hockey. I eat, sleep, and drink it. I started by learning to skate this summer, in a clinic at my local rink, and have signed up for the Jr. Bears Inhouse Clinic. For my age, do you have any advice to keep me focused on my dream of becoming a professional hockey player? I am looking forward to seeing you this year at the Bear’s games. Thank you for your time.”
Cody, my advice would be to have fun and don’t let anybody push you but yourself. Hockey is a fun game. Even now I get all kinds of comments on how I always look like I’m having fun on the ice. The secret is…I am! My dad always tells the story of when I was about six years old and we were driving to or from a hockey practice (I can’t remember which). In the car, dad was giving me some instruction on what I had to do to become a better hockey player. You know, how to work harder, focus on what I was doing, and so on. I don’t remember this happening, but he tells me at one point I just interrupted him and said something along the lines of “Lay off dad! I’m just a kid trying to have fun!” That was the end of it. My dad never pushed me or instructed me again. From then on after practice or games he would ask me “Did you have fun today?” and based on my response we would move forward from there. Hockey was always the most fun activity I could possible do, because I only played it when I wanted to (which was a lot). I was never forced to go to hockey schools unless I asked for it. I never had to go work out unless it was my idea. By having fun and getting better on my own, I never lost that same love of the game I developed when I was 5-6 years old. You can love hockey as much as you do now, if you always enjoy it on your own time.
My second piece of advice I’ll pass on was something I was told many times in my career: ALWAYS find a way to get better. Understand that you can always get better. No matter how many goals you score or points you get or championships you win, there is always room to improve your game. There are millions of kids playing hockey around the world and if you work harder at getting better than all of them, you up your chances of becoming a professional player! Every player on earth can always become a better skater, a harder more accurate shooter, and physically stronger on his/her skates. There is an old quote that was posted in the weight room in St. Cloud where I went to college that bluntly said “When you’re done getting better, you’re done.” I feel that one is pretty self-explanatory.
My last piece of advice would be to dream bigger than anybody can see possible. You said you dream about being a professional hockey player. That’s a good start. When you close your eyes at night, don’t just see yourself as a pro, but one playing in the NHL. Being a superstar. Playing in NHL all-star games. Representing your country at the World Championships. See yourself winning the Olympics. Hoisting the Stanley Cup. Being the Captain of your favorite team. Winning scoring titles and MVP awards. Dream anything you can possibly think of! The more you think about it now, the easier it will be to achieve later. Never be afraid to talk about your dreams either. Share them with people and have them on your mind every day. I’m 24 years old and I still dream about all the same stuff. This reminds me of another quote I remember reading in the dressing room of my Midget AAA team in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. It said, “A dream is like a chauffeur. It will take you exactly where you want to go.”
Inimitable V Cristina asks, “Gordo, you are very humble and appreciative of your fans. If your career keeps taking off and you end up being the big shot you’re going to be in the NHL, how do you think it would change you?”
I believe that if I ever make the NHL full time, it wouldn’t change me as a person at all. No matter where I’m playing, I’m still the small town guy from Porters Lake, Nova Scotia, with parents I respect and a big sister I look up to. I’m honestly flattered and amazed that people have any interest in me at all! In reality, we hockey players are just normal guys. Everybody in the world has a million things they are good at. I was just fortunate enough to have hockey be one of mine. I’m not going to act differently because of it. I have never seen anybody walk around acting like a jerk to people because they are the best parallel parker in the world. I see hockey in that same light. Hockey is something I am good at. It doesn’t define me as a person. It’s a part of my life like everything else I do.
I think being humble is something that comes from my sister. We have always got along extremely well, but when I was young, sometimes I would start to feel like I was a pretty cool guy. She would always be the first to remind me that I was in no way better than anybody else just because I played hockey. There is an image of a prototypical hockey player in my head that I’m sure everyone reading this can imagine. My sister was not going to allow me to become that. I still thank her to this day! As for appreciating fans, I feel it’s simple. Without them we have nothing at all! How could you not appreciate hockey fans? You are the ones that make playing hockey so enjoyable. Nobody in the world enjoys playing in an empty stadium, and I find having a big crowd allows me to play better. Perhaps that’s why we won 24 in a row at home last year? The fans bring energy to the arena and it gives us an extra push that you can’t get anywhere else. I always appreciate that!
There are always days however (predominantly after losing), where I don’t want to talk to anybody. I don’t want to sign autographs or talk about what happened on the ice moments before. But that’s part of the job. People are there because they want to talk to me, so I’m always happy to oblige them in a short conversation, especially if there are kids involved. I remember when I was a kid asking for pictures, sticks and autographs and the feelings I would get when a player would spend a little time talking with me. I have some really good pictures and memories of Alex Tanguay and me together when he was playing Junior for the Halifax Mooseheads. My peewee team won a practice with the Mooseheads and after scoring a shootout goal I mimicked his signature celebration. Immediately he rushed over, grabbed me and began to hassle me for stealing his moves. I remember being so excited that he was paying me this extra attention, and now I am someone who can make people feel just the way I did that day. In my line of work I am in a position to brighten people’s day just by saying hello and remembering a face. I feel I wouldn’t be respecting what I have been given if I didn’t do at least that.
Well guys, I hope I managed to somewhat answer your questions amongst my ramblings! Looking back, I think some of them dragged on a bit. But it’s much harder to explain some of these things in writing. I could do a much better job in person. If you see me on the street don’t be afraid to say hello.
Thanks again for your time! See you in D.C in a few days!
Yours in hockey,