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by Heath Price-Khan / Arizona Coyotes

Kevin Porter finished his storied career at the University of Michigan as the schools all time leader in goals (85) and the recipient of the 2008 Hobey Baker Award. As the captain of a young team, he led the Wolverines to a berth in this year’s Frozen Four. His scoring numbers increased annually from his freshman to senior year with consistent improvement both offensively and defensively. In his final campaign wearing Michigan’s “Maize and Blue”, Porter pumped in a career best 63 points (33 goals and 30 assists). This upcoming season, Porter has his sights set on making an impact in the NHL with the Phoenix Coyotes, and after talking with him it is easy to see why he is regarded as a future star.

Kevin Porter at the 2004 NHL Draft
Heath Price Khan: What is the biggest difference in your game from the day the Coyotes drafted you in the 4th round (119th Overall) of the 2004 draft to now?

Kevin Porter: Mostly, I have just increased my strength and speed. Playing college hockey for four years was great, you gain a lot of confidence and you get a lot stronger and faster over that time.

HPK: Can you believe that from that 2004 draft the Coyotes might have five forwards on the roster this season with you, Chad Kolarik, Blake Wheeler, Enver Lisin, and Daniel Winnik?

KP: It’s pretty cool to think about that. Those guys are all great players and it would be great if we are all there. It’s a young team and it would be amazing to have all those guys on the roster, because I have gotten to know all of them pretty well.

Kevin Porter delivers a hit in the AHL Playoffs
HPK: You got a taste of pro hockey with the San Antonio Rampage during the AHL Playoffs. What was the biggest difference that you noticed in making the leap from the NCAA to the AHL?

KP: The speed, it was a lot faster. Guys really got a jump with their first few steps, and then once they got going they were much quicker. They were a lot stronger as well, but the speed was the biggest difference and something I felt I had to adjust to.

HPK: What are you trying to accomplish this summer to prepare yourself for training camp?

KP: My goals are to get stronger and quicker so that I can compete in the pros with those guys. I also need to work on my defensive game to make sure I can play sound defense. I want to be able to go to work in corners so I will need to keep my conditioning at a high level.

HPK: Are you and Chad Kolarik hitting the gym together to push each other, or do you work out on specific individual things with a trainer?

KP: We work out together in Ann Arbor, Michigan at Yost Ice Arena every morning. After the season ended we took a couple weeks off to recharge the battery, but now we are getting back into the swing of things to get into shape and be ready for the development camp in a couple weeks.

HPK: You had a great career at Michigan that culminated with the Hobey Baker Award this year. Is there one memory from your time as a Wolverine that stands out?

KP: There are definitely a few things that stand out for me. Making it to the Frozen Four this year with such a young team will stick in my mind for a long time. Another great memory was when we won the CCHA Championship during my freshman year.

HPK: Did you get any special phone calls after you won the Hobey Baker from anyone famous?

KP: I got a letter from Wayne Gretzky right after the ceremony that they read to me during the press conference so that was pretty special.

Kevin Porter shakes hands with Tigers coach Andy Van Slyke
HPK: You got to throw out the first pitch at a Minnesota Twins-Detroit Tigers game in Minnesota while you were wearing a Tigers hat. Did you take any heat for that or get a free pass because Minnesota is a big hockey state?

KP: The guys from the Hobey Baker Award committee told me to wear it because I am from Detroit and they were playing the Tigers that game. They said it would not be a big deal in Minnesota and I don’t think too many people in the stands noticed so I did not really take any heat for it.

HPK: Michigan is a big football school with a massive stadium. How many Yost Ice Arena’s (Michigan’s Hockey Arena 6,637 capacity) do you think you could fit in “The Big House” (Michigan’s Football Stadium 107,501 capacity)?

KP: (Laughs) At least 4 or 5 if not more.

HPK: Did you make it to many football games while you were there? Does being on the Hockey team help you get a ticket for the Ohio State game?

KP: Probably not for the Ohio State game, that is a tough ticket. When they brought in guys for recruiting trips, some of the guys on our team would take them around and get to go to the games. Throughout my career I got to go to a few games.

HPK: Did Michigan’s star football players like the NFL’s 2008 number #1 pick Jake Long (Offensive Lineman) or Quarterback Chad Henne come out and support the hockey program?

KP: Yeah, I actually knew both of them pretty well so they came out to a few games. Plus, I would see those guys in class or on campus. They are both really good guys and I was pretty good friends with them. Around campus everybody recognized those guys.

Kevin Porter and Michigan Head Coach Red Berenson
HPK: You had four years with Michigan’s legendary Head Coach Red Berenson? What is the most important lesson you learned from him?

KP: With Coach Berenson it was just about coming to the rink to work hard every day. He would always say that working hard in the best attribute a hockey player can have going for him. A lot of players have skill, but they don’t want to put in the hard work, but if you have skill and work hard you can go a long way in hockey. That was really the best lesson he taught me.

HPK: What is it about Berenson’s coaching style that makes him so successful?

KP: He coaches like a pro and he treats his players like pros. Guys respect that and take what he says to the heart. Everyone obviously knows that he knows what he is talking about so we as players just buy into his system and it has worked out for a long time.

HPK: How excited are you at the prospect of playing for Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky?

KP: To have those two coaches back to back would be unbelievable. Being able to learn from two great hockey minds would be really special.

HPK: What NHL players did you idolize growing up? If you were born in Detroit I would have to guess that Steve Yzerman had to be high on the list.

KP: For me it was Mike Modano and Peter Forsberg, and even Pavel Bure a little bit. Growing up I was never a big Detroit fan so there were no players I was really into on the Red Wings.

HPK: What are your goals for your first professional season?

KP: First and foremost, it is just to make the Coyotes and stay up with them for the entire year. I have some goals written down in terms of statistics, but right now my main goal is to come into camp ready, and just make the team, and then go from there.

HPK: Now to a couple fun questions……What was the last movie you saw and give me a quick movie review?

KP: It was “What Happens In Vegas” with Cameron Diaz and Ashton Kutcher. My friends hyped it up a little too much so I thought it was going to be better than it was, but it was still pretty funny.

HPK: Anything with Cameron Diaz can’t be that bad can it?

KP: Exactly!

: What is your favorite all time movie?

KP: That’s a tough question, but I would have to say it is a tie with “Wedding Crashers” and “The Rock”.

HPK: Who is your favorite actor?

KP: Nicolas Cage

HPK: Who is your favorite actress?

KP: Angelina Jolie

HPK: Are you more into Reality TV, or scripted shows? What are your favorites?

KP: I would say scripted shows. Seinfeld is probably my favorite, but I also watch Friends a lot.

HPK: If they made a movie about Kevin Porter, who would play you and why?

KP: (Laughs) Probably Chad Kolarik because he knows me best and a lot of people think we are really similar.

HPK: Final question….Breakdown the Stanley Cup Finals and give me a prediction.

KP: I think the Red Wings are going to win in 6, but I want Pittsburgh to win.

HPK: How do you grow up in Detroit and manage to not be a Red Wings fan?

KP: I guess it was because my whole family was made up of Red Wings fans, so I went against them and always rooted for Detroit's opponent.

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