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Q&A with Steve Montador

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks
"When they came calling it didn't take very long for us to get things done." Montador says of signing with the Ducks this offseason. "It's very gratifying to be contacted by a team that obviously has a history and especially the recent history that it does."
By Matt Vevoda

Brought in this summer to provide further depth to an already-impressive defense, Steve Montador is one of the new faces that will debut in a Ducks uniform in 2008-09. A six-year veteran, Montador comes to the Ducks after spending last season with Florida where he set new career highs in several categories, including goals (eight), assists (15) and points (23) while playing both defenseman and forward.

Waiting until July 11 to find out his new destination, Montador spent the majority of his offseason in Toronto, recuperating from another physical season on the ice. Recently, the 28-year-old embarked on Orange County early to get a feel for the area and to workout with several of his new teammates in preparations for training camp beginning on Sept. 19. On Wednesday, Montador took a few moments away from it all to answer a few questions.

As a free agent this summer, how did you ultimately come to the decision to choose the Ducks as your new team?
Montador: When I sat down with my agent, we were just going to keep it open to see who was interested in us. In the back of our minds and certainly on paper, our thinking was being able to have the opportunity to play for this organization. When they came calling it didn’t take very long for us to get things done. It’s very gratifying to be contacted by a team that obviously has a history and especially the recent history that it does. I’m really excited to be on board.

After missing the playoffs with Florida the past three season, were you looking to sign with a playoff contender?
Montador: Certainly being able to have a chance to win on every single night is something that every athlete wants to do. My role within the greater scheme of things was a part of it as well. I knew what I was going to be expecting opportunity-wise here where a few other opportunities did not seem to be clearly defined. It was the big picture and the little things that I am excited about here too.

You had a career year in 2007-08. What do you attribute to your success on the ice last season?
Montador: There were some ups and downs with our club and with me. I think it’s always like that. For me, it was a unique year and I think I grew a lot because I spent the year playing half of my games at forward and half at defense. Even within specific games, I’d play both as well and quite often actually. It bounced all around. It wasn’t the job that I sought myself to have in the NHL, but nonetheless it was the only role that I was going to be given. I figured once I got back past that early on in the season, it really comforted my spirits to say ‘Alright, well let’s just give it a best shot’. It was a different from any other year for those reasons, but I think I did a pretty good job with the challenge.

"I feel like I have another element to my game and that is I can play forward if need be," Montador said. "Defense is what I grew up playing and it is what I like."
Now exclusively back on defense, is that where you feel more comfortable?
Montador: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like I have another element to my game and that is I can play forward if need be. Defense is what I grew up playing and it is what I like. It’s where I love the game at the most. You’re in the action more. There are a whole bunch of reasons why I like it more and prefer it.

What is it like coming to a Ducks defense that is headlined by Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger?
Montador: It means a lot to have the opportunity to play, practice, watch and observe so many different talents that are here. There are different styles all mixed within that, but a lot of games and a bunch of Cups. It’s a fabulous opportunity for me to get to know these players that I have been paying attention to on television as people, their practice styles, game preparation and what it takes for them to be professionals. I feel like I’m going to be a good mix right into that.

What do you see your role on the Ducks being in the upcoming season?
Montador: I have been told and it fits well that I’ll be a fifth/sixth defenseman. As the season goes, I’d like to continue to improve. I feel I get better every year and as the year moves, I get better. I’m just looking forward to continuing that process.

What has the offseason been like for you away from the game?

Montador: It was nice. I spent the summer in Toronto. I was able to be close to my nephew and some family and friends of mine there. It is a long and grueling season, so I think it’s important to get away from the game. It’s unfortunate that I’ve been away two months longer than a few other teams, but nonetheless I think some time away is important so you can refresh, recharge and get some healing back into your system to correct any imbalances the season has created. I had a good summer of working really hard to stay in top shape and to keep myself in the right frame of mind coming into camp. It was one of the reasons why I wanted to come down here as early as I did. I’m in California now. I’m working out with some of the guys and getting the lay of the land. I feel like I’ve been away long enough that now I want to get back started again. I’m certainly looking forward to the beginning of October.

When did your preparations begin for the season?
Montador: I’ve been healthy the last couple of years, so I probably take about a week off. Then I get back into the gym three or four days a week and stay active. It’s not even necessarily the gym, but also getting outside for bike rides, hiking, tennis and some outdoors stuff. Being in Florida last year, it obviously allowed for that. I ended up going back to Toronto a little earlier than I should have based on the weather there. I got back on the ice at the end of July. It varies for me every year just depending on how I feel with training and trying out new equipment. At the end of July or beginning of August, I slowly get back on the ice a couple of days a week. For about three weeks now, we’ve been going four or five days a week. I consider it a 12-month process. I’m the type of guy that the longer I wait to get back in shape, the harder it will be.

"I feel I get better every year and as the year moves, I get better," Montador said. "I'm just looking forward to continuing that process."
How many Ducks did you know prior to signing and how many have you since been acclimated with?
Montador: I only knew a couple of players. I played with Rob Niedermayer in Calgary. I knew Brad May from being around some charitable events. I was able to talk to May Day a few times before I got here. This summer prior to signing, even prior to negotiating, I got to meet George Parros. He’s a good guy. We’re both on the marketing committee for the NHLPA. I had the opportunity to just chat with him, not knowing that I was going to be an Anaheim Duck at the time. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gotten to know about a half-dozen of the guys – Chris Pronger, Todd Marchant, Bobby Ryan, Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Morrison and a couple of the young kids that have come in early for training camp as well. It’s been good. That was one of the reasons why I did want to come, to put names to faces.

How much time have you spent in
California in the past and what has it been like being out here the past few weeks?
Montador: I’ve spent a little time here in the past, not a lot. It was in LA County. I enjoyed it out here. Obviously, you can talk about the weather, but I also think there is a cool vibe down here. There are a lot of forward thinkers down here that I’m interested in with diet and environment. You mix that in with the lifestyle that this weather allowed and I just enjoy the atmosphere. I’ve been down now for a couple of weeks almost and mostly have been trying a place to live. It wasn’t too hard. I’ve been out a few times. I think I’m going to sign off on a place today in the Newport Beach area. It’s certainly a good vibe down there and I’m looking forward to what that has to offer.
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