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One-on-One with... Rich Peverley

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
In the wake of Rich Peverley’s new two-year contract, spoke with the young forward about his new deal, his assessment of last season, and his summer plans. Congratulations on the new contract. Will you talk about the contract negotiations and the process to get to this point?
Rich Peverley: My first priority was to come back to the Nashville organization. My goal is to play in the NHL. So the first step to doing that was to resign, so it was a priority for me to get that done as soon as possible. I still have to make the team. I’ve always wanted to play in the NHL and this coming year, I’d obviously like to do so also. What has your summer been like?
RP: I went over to Europe right when the season ended, for a few weeks; just relaxed and did a few sightseeing things. And then came back and I was training and getting ready for my wedding. I just got married this past weekend on Saturday, July 19. That was a very big day, really exciting. We’re at a cottage right now, relaxing and taking it easy. And then we’re going to head back home and start to really get ready for the season. So the new contract is a nice little wedding bonus?
RP: Yeah, it was. It was nice. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, where I fit in to their plans. To get the call and say they wanted to offer me a contract was really nice, for sure. What feedback have you heard from the Preds about your role this coming season?
RP: Because I had to get going to meet up with Milwaukee and help them in their playoffs, I really didn’t have a standard exit meeting with the coaches and management in Nashville. I just got in my car and drove to Milwaukee to help them out as quickly as I could. At the exit meeting in Milwaukee, they were pretty happy with how I played in Nashville and just said for me to be prepared to work on the little things that will help me achieve my goal of getting an NHL roster spot; working on faceoffs and getting stronger were pretty much the main focus there. Last season you alternated between Nashville and Milwaukee a few times. Will you talk about the season and what you learned?
RP: I think the first call-up, I really hadn’t settled in (at the NHL level). And finally the second call-up in mid-January, was the time I really felt like I was establishing myself as a player who could play in the league. I think by the mid-part of that call-up I really started to believe in myself and believe that I could play at the NHL level. I was sent down just before the trade deadline because of roster limitations. Even though they sent me down to Milwaukee for around eight games there, it was just a roster thing that I couldn’t be up at the NHL level. But I really believed in myself and believed that I could play. When I came back up, I thought I played pretty well and I’m hoping as much as I progressed during the year last year, I’m hoping that progression can lead to more things to come in the future. You made the team’s playoff roster last season. Will you talk about your first taste of the NHL playoffs?
RP: It was incredible, especially to play against – and we didn’t know it at the time – the eventual Stanley Cup Champions in the Detroit Red Wings. I thought we had a great series with them. If not for some bounces either way, it could have been an even more entertaining series. It was really an eye opening experience and I think that’s an experience first hand that can help if I make the team in Nashville this season to help bring my game to the next level. And that was something that was a building block toward this coming season. You were involved in some of the bigger goals and moments from last season. Will you walk us through some of those moments, starting off with your first NHL goal on January 24 at Phoenix? ( Watch the play here )
RP: That was I think pretty big for me. The organization was very nice to have my father coming along with us on the Father’s Trip, so he was able to be there in person when I scored my first NHL goal and that’s a memory I’ll always have. It was a big game, from around a couple weeks before that Coach Trotz had always said to us that was our playoffs and we were going to have to play well from that point in January on through the end of the season, and to score a meaningful goal in a meaningful game it was, it’s hard to put it into words what that meant, how I felt. The give-and-go play with Martin Erat against Detroit on February 12? ( Watch the play here )
RP: It was a broken play. I was very lucky to play with Martin and David Legwand at the time. We were caught behind the play a little bit. Dan Hamhuis made a nice play to keep the puck in at the blueline and Marty just passed it to me. I thought he had a better opportunity to put the puck in the net, so I gave it right back to him and sure enough he put it in the back of the net. I think that was the second goal of the game when we jumped out to an early lead. It was great game against Detroit. The overtime goal to cap the big comeback against St. Louis on April 1? ( Watch the play here )
RP: That was such an up-and-down game. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes of the game. And we went in (to the locker room) after the first period and Coach Trotz was just telling us to be patient and work at it and if we did that as a team, we’d persevere. I remember Brandon Bochenski had the first goal and Jordin Tootoo had the second goal and I think Vern Fiddler scored the third goal. Just being able to be on the ice in overtime was a thrill in a meaningful game. And they had the confidence in me to put me on the ice. I think, (on the game-winning play) it all happened so quickly, I just wanted to get the puck off my stick and get the shot off as quick as possibly. It went in and we won the game and it helped up propel to the playoffs In the playoffs, your assist on Bonk’s goal late in Game 5 to send the game to overtime at Detroit? ( Watch the play here )
RP: I think we had missed some big, big party to our team with Arnott out and Legwand out. Dan Ellis played probably the best game of his career so far, in that game, over 50 saves. He played incredible. For me, being on the ice only a 1-0 game going into the last minute, it was a great feeling to be able to get a goal to give ourselves a chance to win the game. It was just a big thrill. The pace seemed to be going pretty fast. I remember they had their best players on and we were just trying to work a play to have a chance to get a good opportunity. The pace was going so fast during that game and then through the final moments there of regulation. By the time the puck was in the net, it had gone by so fast I could hardly remember when it happened. It was too bad we didn’t win that game, because maybe the series would have changed otherwise. To be on the ice at that time of the game, though, was a big thrill and I’m hoping for that experience to be a big builder for me into the future. Two of your teammates from Milwaukee have been mentioned frequently by Preds fans this off-season as guys who can have a big impact on the team in '08-09. Will you talk about goaltender Pekka Rinne?
RP: He’s an incredible goalie. I’ve been lucky enough to be with him for three years in Milwaukee and parts in Nashville. He’s just so incredibly talented and he’s got a great body for being a goaltender, being so tall and quick. I think he’ll do very well at the National Hockey League level. I think he’s got nothing to do but just go up.

He’s a good friend of mine and he was actually just at my wedding this past weekend, so it was nice to see him. He’s an incredible goalie and hopefully I’ll be able to play in the NHL with him in the upcoming years. How about forward Antti Pihlstrom?
RP: He’s an exciting player. When I was with him in Milwaukee, he’s full of energy, exciting to watch. He finishes his checks and he’s fast and he can put the puck in the net. He’s a great player and from what I understand he had a great World Championships, so I hope that he has a great camp and that I’m able to play in the NHL with him in the future.

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