TBL.com correspondent Erin Chenderlin sat down with newly-acquired defenseman Matt Carle and talked about his fresh start in Tampa, his interest in real estate and the Lightning drafting his brother, David, despite being unable to play hockey due to a heart condition.
TBL.com: Hi Matt, and welcome to Tampa! How does it feel to be here?
Matt Carle (MC): This is my first trade, so obviously there are some mixed emotions going in to it, but after being here, getting in town last night and meeting everybody, everyone's made me feel really comfortable. With all the new additions on the team and the new ownership group committed to winning like they are, it's an exciting situation to be in.
TBL.com:Do you feel it's sort of like a fresh start for you?
MC: I definitely do. Playing in a different conference is going to be weird. I'm not used to playing against a lot of the guys and obviously I'm not used to playing with these guys here in Tampa. It's kind of a new chapter in my career, and something I look forward to starting.
TBL.com: You're originally from Anchorage, Alaska. Your first stint in the NHL was with San Jose, and now you're playing here in Tampa. You can't get much more different from home!
MC: Exactly! I've softened up a bit too, if you will, with the temperatures. When I go home now, even in the summers, I'm in jeans and a jacket. My parents like coming down in the winter time, it's almost like a vacation for them. Obviously they've got a lot further of a trip now, to Tampa rather than San Jose, but that's all right.
TBL.com: And the warmer weather may help your golf game, something you seem to enjoy doing.
MC: My golf game needs a lot of help, so I don't know if the weather will have that big of an effect on it!
TBL.com:You had an amazing college career at the University of Denver, being the first player there to win the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate player in the NCAA. As a junior and team captain, you were the first player in WCHA history to win both Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. To top it all off, you won two national championships. How do you feel all that translates into your NHL game?
MC: I'd say the biggest experience I got from it was winning two national championships. The individual awards, I think they're team awards, really, because without your teammates you wouldn't have gotten them. I think the biggest thing you take away from it is the ability to know how to win and to try to translate that into an NHL game. Every time you get on the ice, you expect to win the game. That's the confidence that our team carried in college and that's the confidence that my team had in San Jose and that's something that I will hopefully bring here to Tampa.
TBL.com:The team's ownership group, OK Hockey, took it upon themselves to draft your brother, David, in the 7th round of this year's draft, despite him having withdrawn his name a few days earlier because of a heart condition. What did that mean to him, to you and to your family, for him to still be drafted?
MC: Everybody's first thought in my family was that they were just taking a chance on David, you know, that maybe he didn't have this heart condition. As time went by, we realized that, wow, they did know about it and they picked him because he deserved to be drafted. When I learned about that, it just went to show how much of a first-class organization I'm stepping into. Well, I wasn't stepping into it at the time, we just thought very highly of them. When I was traded to Tampa, it made the transition a lot easier knowing that I was going to such a first-class organization. Obviously my family thinks very highly of Oren [Koules] and Len Barrie for drafting David, and he's excited to be a part of the organization. Obviously I don't know what kind of role he's going to have yet, but I think he might be planning on going down to the development camp in British Columbia and just get to know some people and try to get some networking done.
TBL.com: Having played the past two seasons in the Western Conference, many people around here may not know much about your game. How would you describe your style of play?
MC: I would say I'm a good two-way player. I'd like to say I'm poised with the puck and patient. At 6-feet, I'm not necessarily the biggest guy on the ice so I'm not overly physical, but at the same time, I don't back out of things. I'm not afraid to take a hit and I'll compete for pucks in the defensive zone and try to play strong defensively. I like playing on the power play and chipping in offensively when I can.
TBL.com: I read that if you weren't playing hockey, you'd be into real estate. Have you considered talking to Len Barrie at all?
MC: I might … you know, I probably should! That was my major at Denver, and also something my dad is really into. I didn't graduate from Denver, but I feel like in real estate, you don't need a degree plastered up on your wall to have a successful career in it. That's something that I always liked dabbling into during the offseason, looking at different real estate investments and whatnot. It kind of keeps you busy when you're away from the ice and it will definitely give me something to do when I'm done playing.
TBL.com: You said you didn't graduate from Denver, after playing three seasons. Have you ever thought about going back?
MC: I've thought about it, but like I said, it's not so much just to have a degree up on the wall. Now that my younger brother's going there, I might go back, just because it would be very easy to go back and live with him during the summer and take classes. It would be more about taking classes just to learn.
TBL.com:I also hear you're very superstitious.
MC: I'm trying to get away from that, actually. It's not so much superstitions as just that, when people get into a routine, you want to stick with it. It's part of preparation. You always hear about guys like Tiger Woods and successful athletes … you get into a routine and it helps you to focus for games. You know when you're going through that routine, your mind and your body say, 'OK, it's game time.' So that's more or less what I do.
TBL.com:Is there anything that if you don't do, you just feel completely 'off?'
MC: Probably, yeah. If I didn't take a nap every day before a game, it would probably have a huge effect on me. I don't know why, it's weird, but lots of guys do it.
TBL.com:Is there any defenseman in particular that you'd want to be paired with here?
MC: No, I haven't really thought about it, to be honest. Like I said, the differences in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference, I don't really know too many guys out here yet. Time will tell, and I hope to say that I can play with all of them at some point, you know? So we'll see.
TBL.com:With so many new people on the team this year, how do you feel the trip to Prague is going to help bond the team?
MC: I think it'll be a great time. I had completely forgotten about it. When I talked to Barry Melrose, he was the first person that reminded me of it. When the NHL announced it, I didn't really think anything about it because I wasn't a part of it. Now that I am, I think it's going to be a great time to go over there and get to know some of the guys. We did something like that in San Jose. Very early on in the season we'd go up to Banff, Alberta, just outside of Calgary and have a curling tournament. I don't know if we'll be curling over in Prague, but it'll be a good time.
TBL.com:Finally, have you seen any of the SAW movies? Do they change your opinion of Oren at all?
MC: [laughs] I have seen them, yeah. I know he just produces them. If he wrote them, then I might have a different opinion! I like those movies. I think they're kind of creepy, but they're mysterious and at the same time, they get a good point across, and try to help people from not doing drugs and all that weird stuff.