Florida Panthers defenseman Alex Petrovic took over the airwaves in Edmonton on Monday, joining the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 to discuss everything from the tendencies of his defensive partners to his offseason training and sleeping habits.
A physical presence on the blue line, Petrovic inked a one-year contract extension with the Panthers on July 1. At 25, the right-handed defenseman appeared in 49 games with Florida this past season, recording one goal and 13 assists.
With less than three months until the puck drops on the 2017-18 season, Petrovic told Gregor that his Panthers teammates are champing at the bit to get back on the ice and start their push to the playoffs.
"I think everyone's pretty happy," he said "I've been to a couple weddings, meeting up with some teammates, and we're all pretty excited to get the season going again."
Here are some highlights from the interview:
On the intensity that new head coach Bob Boughner will bring to the Panthers.
"I was listening to him [on the radio] today. He was just saying that he doesn't have a set way of playing. He likes to play to everyone's strengths. I think we've got a fast team and I think just using that, being more structured, being more intense, bringing a bit of an edge to our game, [Bob's] really known for that. He's coached in the Western Conference the last couple years. I think if we bring that style of play to our game, that's going to enhance all our strengths and just kind of bring some intensity to all our games. I think whenever we do that we're the most dominant team on the ice."
On what he learned while dealing with injuries last season.
"Before I got hurt, I was playing really well -- solid hockey. Everything I did that past summer [paid off], I really showed what I was capable of. Then I went down for 30-plus games. When you're sitting out and watching, especially seeing the guys kind of struggle a little bit, it just gets you more pumped up to get back. When we came back, [Jonathan] Huberdeau and [Aleksander] Barkov kind of came back at the same time, it just [gave us a lift]. But for me, missing that much time, your timing is off and everything. It kind of takes you back to training camp. It's that same feeling. We had really good trainers back in Florida helping us get stronger."
On his sleeping habits and the importance of a good night's rest.
"I was [getting nine hours] at the beginning of the summer just because the quality of my sleep wasn't really that great during the year - you're stressed out about stuff. I think as you get more quality sleep, well for myself, I don't really need to get the 8-9 hours a night. I can get 6-7 hours and I'll wake up and feel great for the rest of the day… I've been getting pretty good rest and I think it shows a lot."
On sharing the blue line with Mark Pysyk during the 2016-17 season.
"I was playing with Pysyk at the beginning of the year and we were, honestly, we were lights out, we were solid. We weren't flashy or anything, but we just made the right plays all the time. He's very reliable. When I'm going back for a puck, I can hear him talking, you know, I know where the puck's going. We were just on, perfect."
On the Panthers signing of enforcer Micheal Haley.
"It's nice to have those guys in the lineup. I think Haley can still play the game, too. He's not just a meathead just running around; he can still play the game. I think just having that guy in the room, I don't know him personally or anything, but he plays a physical style and has got a little bit of an edge. If someone's messing around on the other team, he's going to get up in their faces. I think a lot of our skilled guys really enjoy seeing that. It kind of gives them energy, too."
On improving the offensive aspects of his game.
"I know my job first and foremost is to play defense, but sometimes you do get in certain situations in a game where you have a chance to score: there's an open net or you just put yourself in the right position. You've still got to work on those skills to take advantage of those [opportunities]. I'm not going to be playing power play or out on a 6-on-5 or anything any time soon. If I can work on that stuff and get better at that, then when my time comes it'll probably just give the coach a better reason to put me out there [laughs]."
On his offensive-minded training over the last month.
"This last month I've been on the ice probably two or three times a week, an hour each, just me and my brother. I throw a bucket of pucks out there and I just put myself in certain situations and he'll pass me the puck. I've got to handle it, whether it's in my skates or if it's a bad pass or even a good pass. It's about getting it, having a good release, a quick release and getting it right where I want it. I've been doing that and seen some improvement. I'm pretty excited to see how I am when I get down [to South Florida]… It's kind of like golf, right? The more reps you get, the better it's going to feel and the easier it's going to come off your stick. I've just been ripping pucks all summer."