Patrick, what are your initial thoughts about being invited to participate in the orientation camp?
“I think it’s pretty exciting. It’s a big thrill at this point in my career to be part of USA Hockey. In my career today, I’ve played with the national program and the world championships and being a part of various USA teams, this is where I want to be in my career right now. I think it’s exciting to be on a stage like this with the Olympics coming up, and you finally start to feel it coming up with Orientation Camp and the announcement of players who will be going to Vancouver. Right now, it’s just an honor to be part of this group and hopefully I can keep going. Obviously, it’s a step in the right direction to make the team and there’s no better feeling than to be part of that team in 2010 that goes to Vancouver."
Who are you looking forward to playing with the most among the list of invited players?
“There are a lot of good players. It’s just nice to be there in the first place and to have the camp in Chicago. I think there are a lot of good players like Zach Parise, Dustin Brown, and I’ve played with guys like Erik Johnson before, so it’s going to be fun to play with those guys again. Hopefully, they move on, too."
How does this camp differ from regular training camp for you and how different will it be to have different people to work with?
“Obviously, it will be different. In the past couple of summers, the only thing I’ve trained for is the upcoming season. Now I’m training for the season and the Olympics. That’s going to be exciting though -- it’ll be a nice camp in the summer to get going and ready for the season, but also getting to know the guys who I’ll be playing with in February, hopefully. It’s an exciting time knowing that I'm part of the group that may be playing in the Olympics. Growing up, I watched the U.S. play in a lot of different tournaments and it’s exciting to maybe be a part of that.”
Was making the Olympic team one of your goals growing up?
“To be honest with you, it’s always been making the NHL. I had heard a couple of years ago that the Olympics were coming up and I could maybe be a part of that team. Now, I’m part of the camp and I can hopefully make the team. The team’s going to be coming along pretty fast, and now it’s one of my goals to be on it. It’s one of the highest levels of hockey that you can play and obviously every country is trying to put a team together to represent themselves. I’ve always been a big USA Hockey fan and part of the USA hockey family; hopefully I can remain a player in the USA hockey family and play well in this tournament -- if I make it. I want to put something good together for the country in this tournament.”
Before this announcement was made, were you informed at all what this camp could be like? Did Brian Burke call you and consult with you as far as what could be done at this camp?
“I actually talked to the Nashville Predators’ GM Dave Poile the other day and he was saying that it’s going to be a camp where we do some things on the ice, do some things off the ice and some team bonding activities. I don’t really know what to expect going into it. It’s probably more of just getting to know your teammates. I’m pretty sure that nothing much is going to be taken from the on-ice things. They'll probably pick most of the players during the first part of the NHL season.”
It was pretty well assumed that you were going to be invited at least to this camp. When you see that you got the invite and the Olympics are attached to it, does it take on a different meaning?
“Yeah, it does, actually. You hear a lot about it over the last couple years and you see your name mentioned in the Olympic discussions and you see a lot of players you look up to -- guys like Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Tony Amonte and Phil Housley -- that you watch growing up. You think that maybe you could be one of those players who could represent the U.S. It’s exciting. I’m a big USA Hockey fan, like I said, and a big USA supporter throughout my career. Hopefully, soon I can say that I am on that team."
Did you have any dealings with Ron Wilson or any of the coaching staff before?
“Ron Wilson -- I met him when I was a YoungStar in Atlanta and he was one of the coaches for the All-Star Game. I got to know him a little bit there, but not too much. Tortorella, I obviously played with him at the World Championships, too.”
What do you think this means for “Buff” (Dustin Byfuglien) to be invited here? He is someone maybe people didn’t think about going to this camp.
“Well, he was invited to the World Championship team a couple years ago and he had an injury of some sort, and with things like that you miss out on opportunities that might get you looked at for a team like this. But you want a guy like him. He dominated in some of the playoff games and was such a critical person for the team. He’s got a lot of skill and is a young guy who is coming into his own, and he’s got a big shot. When he puts his mind to it, he can be one of the best power players in our league. That’s probably what they are looking at, I would think. When he comes out and plays really hard for you he can be a key contributor in the game.”
Can you tell me what you are doing this summer to become a better hockey player, and are you looking forward to tomorrow and what the Blackhawks can add via free agency?
“Yeah, you know it’s a fun day to watch and I never really know what to expect. Obviously, there are some decisions to be made and we have all the trust in our management and what they have been doing. They put a great team together this past year that got us into the third round. Who knows how far we could have gone if we played as well as we could have, but we ran into a hot team in Detroit. It will be exciting to watch especially when there are a lot of things happening around the league. As far as myself this summer, I have been pretty much relaxing and working out in the gym, trying to spend more time getting stronger and faster. I’m just going to keep working on my game."
Does the camp in August change any of your summer workout regimen and how you prepare for the season?
“Not really. I think it’s just one of those things where you are going in and playing at a higher potential of hockey than we would be at home. It’s exciting for me. I remember, I used to play in World Junior Trial Camps in Lake Placid, and it was one of those things where it was nice to play and get your feet wet before the season -- that’s how I am looking at it right now. It should be a good thing.”
Have you, or do you know of any guys that have talked to Marty (Martin Havlat) recruitment pitch, or do you stay out of all that?
“The fans voted him as MVP of the year and best forward, so if you are missing a guy like that then obviously he was a big part of our team this year offensively and defensively. He’s a guy that obviously if we lose him. he is going to be missed. But I’m sure there is more to that than we know behind the scenes. I’m sure they’ll make the right decision for both sides and hopefully it works out in our favor.”