HAZELWOOD, Mo. - We’re less than two weeks away from the start of training camp, but Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is ready to drop the puck right now. He’s spent most of his summer training in St. Louis and says that from a strength / conditioning standpoint, he feels better than he has in a long time.
We caught up with Pietrangelo after a recent informal skate to talk about his summer, the roster changes, what the club learned from last season and even NHL 16.
Below is the complete Q&A.
STLOUISBLUES.COM: We couldn’t start an summer Q&A without asking about your offseason. Did you do anything fun?
Pietrangelo: My summer was good. I spent a lot of time with the family because that’s the most important thing for me. I also took a nice trip down South.
BLUES: You spent a significant part of the summer training in St. Louis. Where do you feel you are strength / conditioning wise?
AP: Really good. It’s probably the best I’ve felt in awhile. I had a really good summer to focus without distractions. I took a lot of time to prepare the proper way and I feel really confident going into the year.
BLUES: You’ll enter training camp this year with a slightly different roster (Troy Brouwer and Kyle Brodziak as notable additions, T.J. Oshie and Barret Jackman as notable subtractions). Do you feel these changes can help push this team further into the postseason?
AP: Army and Hitch did a great job this summer. It’s obviously tough to see guys go because they’re good friends, but some of these guys have come in pretty early. ‘Brouw’ has been here for a few weeks now. We’ve bonded pretty well and he fits right in.
BLUES: For the first time in your NHL career, you’ll have a defensive group that doesn’t include Barret Jackman. How different will that be, and are you looking forward to seeing who seizes the new opportunity?
AP: Yeah. (Robert) Bortuzzo, (Petteri) Lindbohm, they’re all similar players and they’re all steady defensemen back there. It’s tough to see Jackman go, especially with the history he has here, but it’s a great opportunity for guys like that, guys like Colton Parayko, those guys have a great opportunity here to step in and make a difference.
BLUES: Now that you’ve had time to reflect, can you pinpoint what went wrong in the playoffs last season and what have you learned from it?
AP: You learn that no matter who your opponent is, it takes a lot to win in the playoffs. A lot of things have to click. The series is never over until it’s over, and we had a lot of ups and downs. Consistency in the playoffs is an important thing. It’s tough to keep looking back, but we’ve got to learn from it, move on and get ready for next year.
BLUES: Last week, we saw more than 3,500 Blues fans pack Ballpark Village for Ice Breaker 2015. The passion of St. Louis hockey fans, even in the summer time, it’s always evident isn’t it?
AP: Yeah, that was awesome. When I was up there, I was thinking about how packed it was. We all love the Cardinals, but there’s nothing quite like hockey. Our fans know that and the way they packed Ballpark Village is a prime example of it.
BLUES: NHL 16 comes out in a couple weeks, complete with authentic arena atmospheres that will even include mascots like Louie! How much are you looking forward to playing that?
AP: I didn’t know Louie was in it, that’s awesome! We play it against each other in here all the time, so hopefully it’s as good as it is every year. I’m really looking forward to getting it.
BLUES: Are you a guy that freaks out about your player ratings in the game?
AP: No. I usually think they rate me too high, anyway.
BLUES: For you, what are your personal and team goals this season? What would you consider to be a successful season?
AP: Winning the Stanley Cup is the ultimate goal for us. Personally, it’s about being successful at both ends of the ice and being a good leader.