MONTREAL - It's been quite the fun season for Scott Walford. The Victoria Royals defenseman and alternate captain set career highs for goals (9), assists (38), points (47), and differential (plus-12) this season, his fourth in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Walford also finished tied for second in playoff scoring on the Royals with seven points (7A), helping them into the second round where they lost in four games to the Vancouver Giants. We recently caught up with the 20-year-old rearguard.
We remember you saying you had taken French in school growing up. Have you had a chance to put it to use?
SCOTT WALFORD: I did take French immersion all the way up until grade nine and then I finished… I kind of accelerated it. So I finished that through normal French school, but I took French immersion all the way up until grade nine.
I spent a month out in Montreal this summer before camp. So when I was there, I got to use it a lot. I was with a billet family there and they all spoke French. So they were very, very kind to me and they helped me with my French a lot, actually.
How do you feel about your season as a whole?
SW: It was a big season for me. I was fortunate enough to, before the season, spend a month in Montreal and spend it to rehab an injury that I had. Starting like that, and getting to be around guys like Jeff Petry, Paul Byron, and Andrew Shaw who really helped me was good motivation for me to see where I could get to. And then when I got back to Victoria, we were underdogs most of the season. So it was nice to play on a team where we tried to prove a lot of people wrong. It wasn't the end to the season that we wanted, but it was a great season for a lot of guys on our team. Hopefully, we can win a few games in the playoffs next year.
Tell us more about working out in Montreal with the Canadiens.
SW: I was skating and working out with those guys a little bit toward the end of their summer; I think they got back there a little bit earlier than most guys. But they were just good examples for me. They didn't treat me like I was a prospect and they were on the NHL team; they treated me like one of their own. They really brought me in and I felt comfortable coming to the rink every day and being with those guys. They're amazing people.
How did it feel to be able to contribute in the playoffs the way you did?
SW: It was nice to be able to help my team as much I could in the playoffs. For myself as a player, I know that it's not only offensively that I can contribute in a game; there are many ways to contribute. One thing I try to pride myself on is, I try to be good in my own end first and then if points come from that, points come from that. But points definitely aren't a focus on my game, I just want to be I want to help my team however I can. And if I see a chance to jump in the rush or jump up in the play, I always want to take what the game gives me. That's something my dad always told me. I don't want to force anything; I want to play an honest game. And I just want to make sure that I'm good for my team every single night.
You hadn't participated fully in the playoffs since 2016. Was that extra motivation for you?
SW: For sure. Having my past two seasons end because of injury, it was pretty devastating when it happened. And obviously looking back to last year, it was really hard on me to miss the second playoffs, but it's really what motivated me this offseason to come back better than I've ever been before. And I think that's the big reason why I had my best offseason ever, which helped me get ready for not only this entire season, but this postseason. And that's why I was able to help my team when I could.
What are your offseason plans?
SW: I'm still in Victoria, just hanging out with some of the guys. I'm going to be here for a little bit before my training starts. I think I'm going to go to Mexico in a couple of weeks and just relax there and make sure I'm ready to start offseason training. I used to jump back into training right away. But after being forced to take a month off with an injury last year, I found that it really helped my body a lot. So I'm just trying to stretch and roll out a lot and make sure that my body's feeling good. I'm just trying to take a little bit of rest after the season before I get back at it.
Your contractual status is a bit up in the air, but that aside, would you like to work out in Montreal again this summer?
SW: Exactly. It's definitely something I'd love to do again, but obviously, it's up in the air right now.