|"I packed up everything, went to the airport Tuesday morning, got here, went through all the physical tests, skated here Wednesday, skated Thursday and now here I am," said Mara of hooking up with the Ducks in Anaheim. "It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been great." |
As recently as Tuesday night, Paul Mara was relaxing in his summer home in Cape Cod, pretty much waiting for word on where he would play hockey this fall. Three days and three time zones later, he’s at Honda Center in Anaheim, going through medical and photo day in an Anaheim Ducks t-shirt, a man dying to get back to hockey again.
A once-promising season in Montreal came to an abrupt end last winter for Mara (pronounced MAIR-a), after a left shoulder injury he suffered in a game in New Jersey ultimately forced him to pull the chute on the rest of the campaign. He was forced to sit out the final 30 games of the regular season and watch as his Canadiens teammates got on a playoff run that took them to the Eastern Conference Finals.
During a summer in which he and his agent fielded offers from a handful of other teams, Mara finally signed with a Ducks club that needed defensive help, especially in the wake of Toni Lydman
going down with a still-undiagnosed condition.
The 31-year-old Mara is certainly used to relocating, as the Ducks his sixth team in his 12 seasons (also Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Boston, New York, Rangers before Montreal).
Mara took a few minutes in between stations in the bowels of Honda Center to talk about his past, what he’s looking forward to in Anaheim and a certain YouTube video that shows off his on-ice persona. What was the process in you eventually signing with Anaheim?
My agent was in touch with the Ducks throughout the summer but nothing came out of it. This past week I got the call they wanted me to fly in for a physical to check on myshoulder. Everything checked out and then it was all signed, sealed and delivered on Wednesday.
We talked to a few other teams during the summer and we thought about the opportunities, as far as winning and everything. This felt like the best place for me. How quickly did you have to turn things around and get out to Orange County?
I got the call Monday night when I was sitting at home in Cape Cod. I heard the Ducks wanted me to get out there on an 8:55 a.m. flight the next morning and that if everything went well, I would sign with the Ducks. So, I had 12 hours to winterize my house, get everything situated, pack up my clothes and pack up my car and get out here. It’s not like it’s a two-hour drive away or anything. I got everything together, went to the airport Tuesday morning, got here, went through all the physical tests, skated here Wednesday, skated Thursday and now here I am. It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been great.
How tough was last year for you?
|"I just want to bring a strong physical presence and play strong defensive hockey out there," Mara says. "But I can jump up in the offense and make a play. I’ll hopefully get more into that offensive mindset out here, while still keeping that defensive edge. I’ll do anything to help this team win." |
It was truly frustrating. Montreal is a fantastic place to play hockey and things ended up being pretty rough because of the injury bug, which hit me midway through November and went downhill from there. I’m trying to rebound from that and have a great year this year. What was the rehab like?
Well, it’s not fun going through something like that. The first four weeks, you can’t do anything really. Thank God it was my left hand so I could use my right. It was pretty much a four-month process to get back to 100 percent. I just battled through it and did everything I needed to do to get back to normal strength-wise. Does it still bother you?
It’s 100 percent now. There are a couple of things in the weight room we want to avoid to keep the strength up, but physically, hitting and everything, it’s perfect. For Ducks fans who haven’t seen you play much, how can you describe your game?
I just want to bring a strong physical presence and play strong defensive hockey out there. But I can jump up in the offense and make a play. I used to be an offensive guy when I was in Phoenix. But ever since I moved back East, I’ve been more of a defensive guy. I’ll hopefully get more into that offensive mindset out here, while still keeping that defensive edge. I’ll do anything to help this team win.You’ve played in your share of cities in your career. Do you have a favorite?
All the cities I’ve played in were great. Phoenix was unbelievable and Boston is my hometown, so that was great. New York is second to none and Montreal is a hockey city and a fantastic city in general. Now I’m in Southern California and people say you can’t beat this place. I’ve been pretty fortunate.
Soon after you signed with Anaheim, we got wind of this YouTube video of you mic’d up during a game when you were with the Rangers. It showed a side of you that’s pretty boisterous on the ice.
|"It’s definitely a game that’s a business," Mara says, "but it’s also a game to have fun with. Winning makes everything more fun. You go out there and play your hardest and do what you can, but you also have to stay positive and have a good time." |
It’s definitely a game that’s a business, but it’s also a game to have fun with. Winning makes everything more fun. You go out there and play your hardest and do what you can, but you also have to stay positive and have a good time. Why do you, at one point, yell “carpool” at one of your teammates on the video?
[Laughs] That’s just an inside joke with one of the guys. We always used to drive together to the rink and I think one of the guys who scored was in that carpool. How about singing “Jingle Bells” on there?
People have told me about it. I actually haven’t seen the video. I’m probably too embarrassed. I’m going to look at YouTube when I get home and check it out. You’ve hardly had time to think, but what are your feelings about landing in Anaheim?
It’d be nice to settle here. It’s been great here so far, meeting all the guys. You can’t beat living out here. I’d like to establish a home here, go deep in the playoffs and see where it goes. The guys here, guys like Corey Perry
and Ryan Getzlaf
, the leadership with Teemu and Saku, it’s an exciting team. I can’t wait to get it started.