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Alexandre Picard Q & A

by Erin Chenderlin / Tampa Bay Lightning correspondent Erin Chenderlin caught up with Tampa Bay's newest defenseman, Alexandre Picard, after practice to help you get to know a little more about the 22-year-old, 6-2, 220-pound. addition to the Lightning blueline.

You seemed to have a really great opportunity in Philadelphia last season, playing in 62 games and earning 22 points with the Flyers. This season, you spent most of your time with their AHL affiliate, the Phantoms. In that sense, did you kind of feel a trade coming, or was it still a complete shock to you?

It's always a shock, I think, but I kind of felt something was going on. I was playing well down there and wasn't getting called up when there was somebody injured up top, so I kind of felt that there might be a move at the trade deadline.

How has the adjustment of coming to Tampa been so far? Everything seemed to happen quickly. How has it been?

It's just been a shock, because I went down to Norfolk, at first, and I just packed two suitcases, and that was pretty much it. I came to Tampa when I got called up with my two suitcases again, and I got adjusted to a whole new team. It's probably the first time in my life that I've met 50 or 60 people in two days, but it's all working out really well so far. Overall, I'm pretty happy.

What are your living arrangements like right now? Have you managed to get most of your things down here?

No, not yet, I'm still with the same stuff. I've still got my winter jacket – I wasn't prepared for the warm weather and only have about two pairs of shorts right now. I went out and bought myself some sandals yesterday, but that's pretty much it. We're still living in a hotel right now.

Has anyone on the team kind of taken you under their wing and helped you adjust?

I think everybody has, really. The trainers, when I first got in before that first game, they were showing me around really quickly. It's good to have a lot of French-speaking guys on the team. It's probably one of the first times that there's so many on one team, so that makes it easier, too.

You came in only hours before the first game you played here in Tampa Bay. How was that?

It was pretty nerve-wracking. I was pretty tired because I had just done the same thing the day before in Norfolk, with all the travel. I was playing on nerves and the adrenaline was pumping. I thought I did pretty well, though.

It's only been a few games, but how do you feel you're fitting in with the team and the organization, both on the ice and in the locker room?

AP: I just wanted to come in with a good attitude and I want to stay up here and not go down the rest of the year. I think I'm fitting in pretty well, and I think with the guys here, obviously we're not in the playoffs right now, but we still want to make a push and see what happens at the end of the season. We still want to play well. I think we've got a good team, and it's good to be around the guys here.

Coach Tortorella has said he wants to use you in various spots and situations to see what you're capable of. How do you feel about that?

I'm flattered, but at the same time, I want to keep an easy attitude and make simple plays and be calm out there. I really want to stay here, so every game I have to take it like if I don't play or perform, I might go down any day. I'm pretty happy with my ice time, and the situations I've been put in when I'm out there. I've just got to keep my head above water here.

You seem to be known as an offensive defenseman and a power-play specialist, and have already seen time at point on Tampa's power play. How do you feel that fits in with this team?

AP: It's kind of hard to say. I've only played three games, but I feel pretty good so far. I feel the system that we play here allows us, as defensemen, to be more aggressive and skate up-ice a little bit more. I think I've got a couple of great mentors down here, and if I can watch Danny Boy [Boyle] play and learn from him, it's probably going to be good for my career.

That was actually my next question! Being a high-scoring defenseman yourself, and being with Dan Boyle, one of the league's top-scoring defenseman, do you feel you're going to learn a lot from him and improve?

AP: Yeah, absolutely. I think just watching him and Paul Ranger, they're two guys who always have their heads up, they're always looking for the good play, they're always up the ice and they're skilled guys. As my time goes along here, I just want to watch them and hopefully get to play with them a little bit and see what happens.

On Feb. 1, 2007, you set a Flyers record with five assists, the most by a defenseman and a rookie. You're just the 2nd NHL defensive rookie to accomplish the feat. Do you think point production like that can be a regular part of your game?

AP:  [laughs] No, I think that was just a lucky night. Everything I was shooting on net, there was a rebound right there that was popping out and guys were putting it in the net. I was getting some nice feeds from Peter Forsberg, who's probably one of the best players in the world, so it was just one of those nights where everything was going my way.

True, but it still says something about your ability to find opportunities and make plays on the ice.

AP: Yeah, I remember that game, we had one of our high-scoring defensemen go down in the first period, and I got the opportunity to play a little more. I think I racked up about 30 minutes of ice time, because we went to overtime that game [32:42, actually], and I just took the opportunity that was there, and did pretty well.

The year after you were drafted, another Alexandre Picard, same spelling, came into the league and now plays in the Columbus organization as a left wing. Have you two ever met, and do people ever confuse you?

AP: Yeah, we actually played together for Team Quebec at the Under-17s, and then in juniors, we played against each other. We played against each other this year, too, in the AHL. There were actually three of us, at one point, in juniors. There's one that's still in juniors. So, it's pretty confusing. We get hockey cards that fans send us and they're for the wrong person. I get his, he gets mine, stuff like that.

Finally, what are you looking forward to most about being in Tampa, both in the city and with the team?

AP: Well, like I said, I just want to focus day-by-day. I'm not looking too far ahead. I don't want to get lost in the dreams and all that. I just want to stay focused and take everything one day at a time.

Thanks, Alex, and welcome to Tampa!

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