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Ask The Hawks: Cristobal Huet

by Special Feature / Chicago Blackhawks

New Blackhawks goaltender Cristobal Huet sat down with following his introductory press conference to answer fan questions about what sold him on Chicago, how he approaches a breakaway and more.

At what age did you decide that you where going to be a goalie, and what or who was your biggest influence to become one? -- Kris Klein, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

They needed a goalie when I was 7 or 8 and I was always playing goal against my younger brother. So I decided to make the jump.

Why do you think there's such a lack of French/Western European players in the NHL? Is it the reduced interest in hockey in those regions, their lack of interest in the NHL, or the differences between European and North American hockey? -- Axana, Chicago, IL

I think it's the lack of interest for the sport in those countries. Some other countries in Europe like the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland have a big tradition, which is not the case right now in France, for example.

What finalized your decision to sign with the Hawks? -- Bret Walker, Neepawa, Manitoba, Canada

Definitely playing for an Original Six club and it's a great city. And the four-year deal, as well.

Who was your favourite goaltender growing up? -- Bryce Edie, Kenora, Ontario, Canada

Patrick Roy had a big impact in the '90s with the butterfly style.

Are you excited to play outside at Wrigley Field on January 1st, and have you played any games outside before? -- Kevin Osimitz, Glencoe, IL

Like probably every other hockey player I've played outside. Yeah, I'm very excited. It's been a long time since I've played outside. It's going to be awesome.

You played with Alex Ovechkin and against Sidney Crosby, who do you think is the better player? Alex isn't your teammate anymore, so be honest. -- Rick, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

They're different players, so it's tough to judge. You can like cherries and bananas; they're just different. One is a great playmaker, one is a scorer.

With the loads of young talent on the Blackhawks this year, what are your expectations for the team and also personally? -- Darcy, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The first step is going to be the playoffs and getting a good spot in the playoffs. We need to get into good habits of winning and to expect to win constantly.

What is your optimal number of games played for the regular season? -- Ziggy, Chicago, IL

I don't really know. I don't like to sit on the bench. I'd like to play as much as I can.

I was wondering about how aware you are of all the great things that have been happening in Chicago as of late with our Hawks? What sold you on Chicago? -- Jak-O, Elmhurst, IL

Yeah, definitely. I didn't have the chance to come before here, but every day I'm checking this Web site and seeing all the excitement around next season, like the signings, the game at Wrigley, the Convention, Scotty Bowman... There are so many things around the team that are special.

How do you recover after playing a game? -- Steve Tolvaysh, Bartlett, IL

A cold tub, good food and good sleep.

How do you feel about the prospect of splitting time in net with Nikolai Khabibulin this season? Will you use this competition as a motivation to raise your game? -- Aly Jinnah, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Definitely. We both want to play and we're going to have to be our best to play. It's going to make both of us better.

Do you have a nickname we can celebrate here in the windy city?  What featured artwork can we expect to find on your helmet? -- Nick Szpak, Hammond, IN

My nickname is Huey or Cris. As for my helmet, you're going to have to be patient. They're working on it.

My son is a young goaltender in the ranks. Can you share how you prepare for an upcoming game and how you prepare for a game knowing you're not starting? -- Dan Piech, Des Plaines, IL

I think the focus is the main thing. You have to focus 100% on what you have to do without really thinking about what you have to do. I'd say focus before the game and get ready to be focused for 60-65 minutes. When you're not playing, you can be a little more relaxed, but always expect to play.

Who is the "Best Locker Room Guy" you've ever played with? -- Dave Anton, Minneapolis, MN

Ian Laperriere in L.A. He was just a great guy. He was always talking to everybody and very funny. Aaron Downey, in Montreal, was funny, too.

Why #38 for your sweater? -- Sean Furlow, Naperville, IL

39 was taken. My son was born on the 8th, so I changed the 9 to 8. And #38 is on what is like the license plates in my town [in France].

Did you know or play with any of the Blackhawk players before arriving in the windy city? -- Erick, Chicago, IL

No, everyone's new.

What do you feel is the biggest adjustment you need to make with a new defensive team in front of you coming to Chicago? -- David Bielunski, Round Lake, IL

Just working on communication. We just have to know what to do in certain situations.

What do you do on breakaways? -- Ruslan Katsnelson, Los Angeles, CA

Get in the gap and never make the first move.

How did the switch from Montreal to Washington affect you mentally last season? Do you feel well prepared and ready for a fresh start in Chicago? -- Nick, Ontario, Canada

The move was actually good for me. It was a little slap in the face. Hopefully I won't have to slap my face again this year.

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