Sunday, September 20, 2009

THFB Q&A: Captain Kevin Shattenkirk

After earning a spot on the Hockey East All Rookie team in 2007-08, defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk emerged as one of college hockey's top blueliners during the Terriers' national championship season. A seven-goal, 21-assist season gave him 49 points in his first two years in Scarlet. He was named AHCA Reebok Second Team All-American, Hockey East Second Team All-Star and a New England All-Star. The Colorado Avalanche's top draft pick--and 14th overall-- in 2007, he was second in the nation last season in plus-minus with +29. Shattenkirk also served an alternate captain for the U.S. Junior National team in the 2009 World Junior Championships where he was named one of Team USA's three best players. Shattenkirk photo gallery.

Captain of the 2009-10 Terriers, Shattenkirk answered a battery of questions for The Terrier Hockey Fan Blog.

Q—Kevin, you’ve been selected as BU’s first junior captain since Jack O’Callahan (77-78)—who also won a national championship. Have you reflected on importance of that distinction?
KS—I have obviously thought about being a captain as a junior. Seeing my name mentioned in same sentence as someone like Jack O’Callahan is such an honor and hopefully I can be as successful as he was at BU. It is going to be a challenging year, but I know that we have the team to do something special again and I plan on leading everyone the best that I can.

Q—Watching your game change over the past two years, it appears that your gap control has become much better. Was this a conscious change or has it been instinctive as you have gotten better defensively? Do you change that gap depending on the forwards on the ice?
KS—I think when it comes to gap control confidence plays a huge factor in getting better in this area. The coaches pushed me out of my comfort zone freshman year and, although I struggled initially, it was a matter of trying again and again. Eventually you adjust to the speed of the college game and become aware of who you are defending and take it from there.

Q—What did you learn from last year’s captains--John McCarthy and Matt Gilroy? KS—Both Johnny and Matt had different approaches when it came to being captains. John was more of a silent leader, worked hard every day and set great examples for the team. Matt was definitely more vocal and confident in everything he did, which I feel is crucial as a captain.

Q—With Gilroy graduated and Brian Strait also gone, do you expect to find yourself on the ice more often in critical defensive situations this season?
KS—I believe that you have to earn a chance to play in those situations. My defensive game is much better and I feel I’m ready to take on that responsibility this year.

Q—Team chemistry and unity of purpose were important factors in BU’s success last season. The upperclassmen were able to get the freshmen and sophomores to understand the level of commitment needed to have a successful season. As captain, how are you approaching this season? Will you try to duplicate the approach used by Matt and John last year, or are you and the assistants approaching things differently?
KS—Our approach this year is similar to last year’s team but we are still making sure that we form our own identity. We only have nine upperclassmen so we are pushing the younger guys because we know how crucial they are going to be for our team this year. Like I said earlier, I believe we have a great team again this year and we plan on repeating our success from last year.

Q—You’ve already been a successful captain, leading the USA U18s to a silver medal in the 2007 World Championships. How would you describe your leadership style?
KS—I like to gain the respect of my teammates by setting a good example on and off the ice. I am not a guy who berates guys but I definitely hold every player accountable to perform his role, myself included. Eric [Gryba], Nick [Bonino], and I have a great balance of leadership styles that I think will work well.

Q—A few questions regarding the blind drop-pass you made to Colby Cohen that led to the game winning goal vs. Miami. Everyone is familiar with Barry Melrose’s post-game comment: “Shattenkirk walking, he makes that drop pass. Very dangerous play. Only skilled guys will do it."

a. Is the purpose of the play to confuse the defense and give Colby an opening for a clean shot?
KS—That play is one that has two options. If my guy hesitated and stayed with Colby, it gives me a clear lane right down the middle. If he stays with me like he did, then it leaves Colby open.

b. If memory serves correctly, you ran that play a few times earlier in the season. Any concerns that opponents may catch on and steal the pass for a breakaway?
KS—We love that play because we both have a great feel what the situation calls for. If a player decides he might cheat on the drop pass then guy with the puck has a great scoring chance. It is kind of a win-win for us.

c. Is this a play Colby and you used prior to playing at BU? [Note Cohen and Shattenkirk were teammates on the U.S. NTDP U17s and the East Coast Selects.]
KS—Not really. To be honest, Colby and I were never really partners because we just didn’t work. Whatever has clicked over the last years has been great because we play so well together now.

d. Have the coaches put limits on when you can use that play and when you can't?
KS—Our coaches have never limited our creativity, which is one of the benefits of playing here. They always preach offense off of defense; so, as long as we take care of our d-zone duties, we have the freedom to do what we can offensively.

Q—Do you expect it to be a challenge to keep the team focused on the goals BU has every season—Beanpot, Hockey East title, NCAAs—without letting the totality of last year’s success become a target too lofty to duplicate?
KS— do think that last year’s success will be in the back of our minds, but if anything it is a reminder of how hard you have to work to achieve those goals. We have all trained hard in the off-season and have come back to BU with a new attitude.

Q—What are your thoughts on the three incoming freshmen defensemen. You’ve played before with Ben Rosen, right?
KS—I have played with Ben and Sean Escobedo before, and Max Nicastro actually has the same family advisor. So as a whole I have developed a relationship with them before they arrived here. Each guy brings something different to the table and it will be interesting to see who plays because they all have the ability to play.

Q—Do you spend much time thinking about your future pro career, especially now that Brandon Yip signed by the Avs, David Quinn is their AHL affiliate coach, and with teammates Colby Cohen and Kieran Millan also were drafted by Colorado?
KS—My ultimate goal is to play in the NHL, so I definitely think about my future career. There are plenty of BU alumni and players associated with Colorado, which is always refreshing to know, but I can’t control what the future brings. What I can control is here at BU, so that is the main thought in my mind.


Anonymous said...

Very thoughtfull post on confidence .It should be very much helpfull

Karim - Creating Power

Unknown said...

shatty, yoouuuuuu lush! get out to colorado after you win another championship so i can watch ya play!

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