Last week fans on Tampabaylightning.com filled the inbox with questions for Ryan Craig. This week you get your answers. While there isn't time to answer all the questions, here are the best of the best. Stay tuned next week for forward Jeff Halpern!
Name: Steve Hometown: Lakeland, Florida Question: Tips/redirections, are those things you repeatedly practice or is it more of a natural thing?
Well, I work on those things. When you figure something that works for you, you gravitate towards it. For me, to be successful, I have to get in front of the net and try to get my stick on the puck with reflections, tips, rebounds, whatever. It’s a skill, I think, and like any other skill, the more you work at it the better you get at it.
Name: Leslie Hometown: Tampa Question: Do you model your game after anyone particular that was good in front of the net – like maybe Phil Esposito or Dino Cicarelli?
I always watched other players and learned to use what worked for me. There was a pretty good guy that was captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dave Andrychuk, who was great in front of the net. You’re seeing a lot more teams that have one or two guys that stand in that area on power plays and certain other opportunities and have had a lot of success with it.
Name: Brett Leblanc Hometown: Port Hope, Ontario Question: Ryan, let me start off by saying that I think u r an awesome hockey player! My question is if you could choose two players to play on a line with on the Bolts who would u choose?
Thanks for the nice words. Choosing linemates isn’t up to me, but we have a lot of good choices on our team. Yet, that’s not my decision to be made- that’s up to Rick Tocchet and his staff. Some players compliment others more – obviously any of the big guns are a privilege to play with but I just want someone that I’m compatible with and works well with me.
Name: Michael Hometown: Montreal, Quebec Question: What is the best moment of your career ?
One of my goals was to reach the NHL, and then to score in my first game was something I might have dreamed of but never thought would come true. That was amazing, but I’m still hoping there are a lot better moments yet to come.
Name: Austin Hometown: Tampa Question: Ryan, it seems like ages ago that you broke into the league, but it’s been only five seasons, a few being cut short due to injuries. Do you feel like your injuries negatively impacted your playing last season? How are you feeling coming into 09-10? Are you putting pressure on yourself to return to the 15-20 goal plateau or are you going to focus on developing the strong physical play and “utility man” role you seemed to take on last season? Thanks for all your hard work shift after shift and best of luck this season!
Well, first off, thank you. Obviously, injuries are no fun and I’ve had my share of them and yet I think the injuries have made me stronger mentally and I’ve come to appreciate, day in and day out, being able to play the game of hockey after its taken away from you at certain times. I think missing a whole year with my back and knee injuries obviously hurt me. It hurt my play a bit. It’s not an excuse, because I was able to play but not at the level that I expected of myself. I’ve been training this summer and I feel as best as I ever have. Instead of having to rehab something, which I’ve had to do the last five summers, I’ve been able to focus on other things in my training. That’s meant a huge step forward in my confidence. I just want to be sure I have a good summer and work on my skating and work on getting faster and quicker. I’ll take that into the ’09 season and get back to where I was. I believe I’m capable of scoring 20 goals in this league and being that utility guy – a guy that can play in ever situation – that’s what I look forward to getting back to.
Name: Emily Allen Hometown: Tampa, FL Question: What's your nickname that the team gave you? Who makes up the different names?
That’s pretty simple – my nickname is Craiger. You know, guys have different nicknames and get them all kinds of ways. Sometimes they know each other from different teams or different backgrounds or buddies and nicknames kind of carry through with you. Most of the nicknames are just adding “er” or “ie” on the end of a name, but there are some creative ones. The rule is you never make up your own.
Name: Megan Hometown: Largo, FL Question: What is your favorite restaurant? Also what would you being doing if you weren't playing hockey?
My favorite restaurant in Tampa would have to be Roy’s. That’s a very good choice. We’ve had a few team meals there and things of that nature and the food is different. We all love steak and eat a lot of that, but when you find a good restaurant that has a little bit of everything for anyone you take there like family or friends that visit, I think that’s a bonus. I hate to think about what I’d be doing if I wasn’t playing hockey. Playing hockey was all I thought about and dreamed about since I was young. But, I think I’d be in some kind of business. Don’t know exactly what.
Name: Emma Hometown: Tampa Question: - Do you have any superstitions?
Not superstitions, per say. I’ve developed a bit of a routine. I don’t have exact times that I do things or put on my equipment the time or things of that nature, but I have a routine that I follow. As for doing a certain number of rolls of the tape on my stick blade or things like that – making sure things happen at a certain time, well I’m not overly superstitious like that. I do have a good routine that I like to follow.
Name: Ron Chawkins Hometown: Sarasota Question: Who would you call your best friend on the team?
Paul Ranger and I have kind of grown up in the organization the past few years and we played in Springfield together and came up to the Lightning the same year and we’ve been lucky enough to become real good friends and play together for the last few years. Stamkos and I hit it off pretty good, too. We were roommates on the road for most of last year. After that I think I’ve played with Marty and Vinny the longest and Marty and I have become pretty tight. You know, everyone got along; that was one of the things about our locker room this year, there weren’t really any cliques. There was just a group of good guys who all got along and seemed to enjoy each others company, even with the misery of a losing season.