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Q&A With Long Beach Native Emerson Etem

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Emerson Etem of the United States is the 29th pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the first round of the NHL hockey draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles Friday, June 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
EMERSON ETEM: I waited for so long. I didn't know what was going to happen next to me. They show such class. My emotions are running out of control right now, so I'm trying to calm down. It's such an emotional time for me.

QUESTION: (No microphone).

EMERSON ETEM: Yeah, and more waiting after that. So I mean -- I'm just lost for words. Ducks picking me. I'm a California boy and hockey player. I just have so much opportunity coming into this organization. Not only growing the game of hockey in California, but also what I present to the Ducks organization. It couldn't be a better fit for me.

QUESTION: Relief, frustration, joy?

EMERSON ETEM: Oh, there's no frustration at all. It's a little bit of relief, of course, and just all joy. I'm just ecstatic right now. Like I said, my emotions are running out of control. At the same time, I couldn't be happier.

QUESTION: A big roar went up when your name was called. Is it anything related to the Ducks? I mean, you had a lot of people there who were here for you today.

EMERSON ETEM: Probably half those people cheering were my friends. I had a lot of them. Friends and family were all sitting next to me, probably anxiously waiting just like I was. Just like I say, it's a perfect fit for them me being California born, and them being able to watch me night in, night out now. It couldn't be a better fit.

QUESTION: Can you talk about what your plans are? Two years or wait and see what happens?

EMERSON ETEM: My goal and mindset going into training camp is making the team, because all the other guys have that same mindset. So I'm going to go in there, battle as hard as I can and train over the summer and see where I am when training camp comes.

QUESTION: What do you expect in your game?

EMERSON ETEM: If I got picked, and I knew that ovation was going to come -- I mean the fans waited as long as I did. Seeing me put on that jersey, it was a great standing ovation, couldn't be happier.

QUESTION: What aspect of your game are you going to work on the most this summer?

EMERSON ETEM: I'm a bigger guy. I'm going to work on finishing my checks and defensive zone play. I want to be able to create offense out of defense. I'm going to do whatever I can to change that.

QUESTION: Talk about you and Beau being drafted?

EMERSON ETEM: Beau's such a great player, so skilled. Came out of the league and won the scoring title. He's such a great aspect to California hockey. A new wave of California hockey presenting so much skill. It's all the coaching being done. There are such good coaches out there, and they deserve a lot of respect.

QUESTION: Besides the long wait, what is it like being here in L.A. and at home?

EMERSON ETEM: Everything I could ask for. Besides the wait, which, to me it doesn't matter if I was in the Top 10, Top 20, doesn't matter to me. Everybody gets the same opportunity, and I'm willing to execute that.

QUESTION: With the dynamic between the Ducks and Kings fans there tonight, did you get a taste of what it's going to be like to come back to your hometown as a Duck?

EMERSON ETEM: Well, the Kings I always loved growing up. But Ducks are my new favorite team. For me, it's such an exciting time. I can't wait to put on that uniform and play with the Kings. I know it's a huge rivalry. People were chirping me out there already. I know what's coming, and I'm all for it.

QUESTION: Even with having the jersey on now, your dream was to play here hopefully and have that jersey on?

EMERSON ETEM: Yeah, I feel like a young boy going out to the local score and getting it right now. It's a crazy feeling. It's everything I expected and more. Just standing out there right now, it's such an unbelievable feeling.

QUESTION: How many times in the first round did you think you would be selected? Were you sitting there thinking, okay, this is it. This is my team?

EMERSON ETEM: When Kings made it up there, I for sure thought that. And I was hearing rumors and this and that. And every pick I was thinking this has to be the one. So I heard it a lot. I felt that it was coming. And hopefully the Ducks would pick me up.

QUESTION: Talk about the future of the teams, and is it just water under the bridge?

EMERSON ETEM: I think everybody gets the same opportunity going into training camp, whether you're rounds 1 through 7 doesn't matter. I was fortunate to be in the first round, whether I think I'm a better player than that. I just fell to such a high class organization. I'm so happy to be a Duck.

QUESTION: Did you interview with the Ducks at the combine?


QUESTION: How'd it go?

EMERSON ETEM: It went great. I knew they had some interest in me. I probably think they thought they weren't going to be able to get me, and same for me. But like I said, I couldn't be happier.

QUESTION: Did you Google Ducks games or -- did you go to any Ducks games or anything like that?

EMERSON ETEM: This might sound embarrassing. I've never been to a Ducks game before. I lived 20 minutes from the Honda Center and was always around it. But at the same time, my first game I'll be playing in it.

QUESTION: Did you get a chance to talk to Cam Fowler yet?

EMERSON ETEM: Me and Cam are great buddies. We know each other from the National Program. He's such a great guy. He's going to represent the Ducks organization with high class and me as well. So I do know him. He's a great guy. I just can't wait to enjoy this experience with him.

QUESTION: You've said you set very high expectations of yourself?

EMERSON ETEM: Yeah, I think so. Just me as a player, whether I feel that I should have been picked higher or not, I know the type of player I am. I know what I can bring to the Ducks organization, and that is speed. That's grit. You know, goal-scoring ability, and I think that's what the Ducks and the NHL need right now. I'm just here to do it.

QUESTION: Is that the longest wait? Does it seem like an eternity while you're sitting there with everybody?

EMERSON ETEM: Yeah, after a while I just said this has to be it. I just kept a positive attitude. I'm just lucky enough that the Ducks picked me up. I couldn't be happier right now. I couldn't think of a better situation, yeah.

QUESTION: When you made that walk to the stage, do you still remember it, or were you on Cloud 9?

EMERSON ETEM: It's pretty much a blur. I didn't know where I was looking what was going on, I've always watched previous drafts and the guys go up and put on their jerseys. To end like that, to end this night like that, I couldn't be happier.

QUESTION: What did they say to you?

EMERSON ETEM: They just said good job. Congratulations, you've deserved it. They've done so much for my career that they're speechless right now. They've put in so much time and effort, just as much time as I've put in to achieving this dream. Yeah, they couldn't be happier for me.

QUESTION: What's it like to meet Scott Niedermayer there and shake his hand at the podium?

EMERSON ETEM: Yeah, with all the emotions going in, and there's Scott Niedermayer right there, he's obviously a legend, not only for the Ducks, but he's such a winner. He's got gold medals, Stanley Cup. Hopefully he'll be around so I can learn a lot from him.

QUESTION: You're 18 years old. What was the first movie you saw in the theater?

EMERSON ETEM: In the theater? Oh, that was a crazier question than the combine I got (laughing). I'm going to say The Mighty Ducks. It fits the mold right now, so, why not?

QUESTION: How does it feel to get to this point and come home now, and playing at home?

EMERSON ETEM: Coming into the Draft, I had that feeling of maybe traveling somewhere, and interestingly enough, I've been in Minnesota for two years. I've been in Michigan for two years, and now finally I end up in my backyard. It's almost like it all fell into place for me. Couldn't be a better fit for me. I feel so comfortable in a non-traditional hockey market. Just couldn't be happier.

QUESTION: Talk about playing in Madison, what that's done for you?

EMERSON ETEM: The whole Madison Tiger organization, they present such class. All they want is winning and none less. So it was a blessing playing for that organization. I learned so much. One of the things I need to work on is my physicality, and he pushes me to do that every practice, every game. We watch video, tons of video, to critique that. Yeah, it couldn't be a better fit as well.

QUESTION: How many family and friends are here?

EMERSON ETEM: I have 100 coming to the reception here pretty soon. They were all in the stands and then some. Then from middle school, growing up in school days, and some that I don't even know. I'm thinking about them and they're all Ducks fans. Their expressions that they're going to give me are going to be out of control, so...

QUESTION: Who is here?

EMERSON ETEM: My mom, dad, aunt, uncles on both sides. My brother was here. Sadly, my sister wasn't able to make it, but I know that she was watching on TV. Tons of fans from all over. I know my brother had friends traveling from different parts of the country. My host family from Madison that's down here. It's a countless number of people supporting me tonight. It's just a great feeling.

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