Rangers fans - thanks for submitting your questions to defenseman Thomas Pock. The 6-1, 208-pound Austrain native is currently participating in the club's Prospect Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta.
Following a strong senior season at the University of Massachusetts in which he was named a Hockey East First Team All-Star and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, Pock appeared in six matches with the Rangers to end the 2003-04 campaign, tallying two goals and two assists for four points. He made his Rangers/NHL debut and tallied his first NHL goal/point on March 23, 2004 vs. Pittsburgh and registered an assist on March 25, 2004 vs. Nashville, becoming the first Rangers rookie to record points in his first two NHL matches since Ken Gernander in 1996.
Pock Bio / Stats >>Rangers Sign Pock to Professional Contract >>
- 3/23/04Pock Nets First NHL Goal in Rangers/NHL Debut >>
- 3/24/04Pock Poised to Shine for Austria >>
- 4/22/04Pock a Key Component of Austrian Youth Movement >>
_______________________________Q: Talk about the Rangers Prospect Camp in Calgary. How has it been going? What are you working on and how will it help you in the upcoming season?
A: The Camp has gone well so far. We work out in the mornings - there are two groups. We focus on agility, core strength and some weights. Obviously, if you look at the guys in the NHL, they are all big and strong, so it's one area of the Camp that all of us have to improve on. (Rangers Strength and Conditioning Coordinator) Reg (Grant) is doing a terrific job with us in that regard. In the afternoons, we skate. We do about 45 minutes to an hour of power skating and edge work and another 45 minutes or so of drills. It's all going to help us get ready for the season. Once Training Camp starts, I'm sure everyone will be ready to jump right in get to work.
__________Q: Outside of the prospect camp, what types of things have you been doing this off-season?
- Toby Ivey
A: I went home to stay with my family in Austria for three weeks after the season and came back and stayed with my girlfriend in Boston for a little bit. I worked out with a few of my college friends in Massachusetts, played a little golf, and went to the beach. I also played in the World Championship for Austria, which was a good experience.
__________Q: Thomas, what are some of the adjustments you've made to life as a pro hockey player compared to the college level?
- Paul Canosa
A: The best adjustment is that I don't have to go to school anymore (laughing). But seriously, with not having classwork to focus on, my days are pretty free right now, which gives me time to spend time on training. When I came back (to the United States) after the World Championship, I took a few weeks off, but after that it's been business as usual, trying to get better.
__________Q: You had amazing start when you signed with the Rangers. What do you think your role will be on this rebuilding Rangers team next season and in the future? Also, what NHL player today do you most closely compare your style of play to?
- Nick R.
A: I played with the Rangers for six games at the end of last season and it was so much fun. That's what every young hockey player dreams of. I want to get back to New York and contribute and play the kind of hockey that will force them to keep me there. I think it's tough to say what type of player I compare myself to, but I really like the way a guy like Scott Niedermayer plays or Nicklas Lidstrom. They are two of the best defensemen out there. Obviously, you want to watch them and see what kind of things they are doing to try to improve your game so that maybe one day down the road you may be in the same class as them. Also, a player like Brian Leetch. That would be the ultimate goal for me. I'm a long way away from that level right now, but that's what the hard work in the summer and during the season is for.
__________Q: On growing up, who were your favorite players or hockey heroes?
- Siddika Hirji
A: I don't really have any particular favorites, but one of the guys that I always looked up to, and it was unbelievable to have the chance to play with him for a few games last season is Mark Messier. I think he's a terrific hockey player and handles himself so well off the ice. I had the chance to meet him and I was fortunate to have the chance to play with him at the end of the season.
__________Q: I was at your first game at The Garden and was wondering what it felt like to step out on the ice after just arriving in NYC and signing a pro contract that same day?
A: It was unbelievable. It's always been my ultimate goal to play in the NHL. Ever since I was around 10 years old and watched a few NHL games, I told my dad that I wanted to play there. For it to finally happen, it was unreal. I was excited and it was just a lot of fun. It's something that I will never forget. And then scoring a goal that night was just icing on the cake. I just wanted to get in there and play the best hockey I was capable of and not look like a fool out there. It happened to go my way. I got a nice pass from Jamie (Lundmark) and shot it and it went in. It was really exciting, because obviously it doesn't happen too often that you score in your first NHL game.
__________Q: What do you feel you need to work on the most in order to become the player you want to be ... and what kind of player is that?
A: I think I need to focus a lot on the defensive part of the game, as well as my skating. The NHL is on a much higher level than the skill and pace of college hockey. My backward skating and one-on-one play are also things I look to work on. The way I see it, there is always room to improve and that's what I'm working on right now to see if I'm good enough to play in the NHL for a full season and beyond. Like I said earlier, I want to one day become a player like Brian Leetch or Nicklas Lidstrom or Scott Niedermayer.
__________Q: To what extent is having a father, who was a great hockey player and coach, contribute to your hockey development?
A: My dad has always been there for me along the way. He would always help me out and talk to me about different parts of the game. He came right over to North America once he found out I signed my contract and was able to watch my last three games of the season with the Rangers. It definitely helps you when you have someone outside of your regular coaches that you can talk to about certain problems or difficulties you had throughout the season. It was always great that he was also able to separate being a dad and being a coach. Even when he coached me over the years, there was never a problem. I'm really fortunate to have him.
__________Q: Thomas - Making the switch from 'O' to 'D' in college must have been difficult if that was your first exposure to being a blueliner. Was that your first time playing 'D' or had you had prior experience? Thank you and best of luck to all Rangers in 2004 and beyond.
- Greg C.
A: Apparently, it seems that I should have been a defenseman many years before I made the switch in college (laughing). It was a little difficult with the backward skating and with the gap control. I still have some problems with that - problems that I try to work on now. After a few games in college, it was fine and now after two years of playing on the blueline, I have become much more comfortable with it. Obviously, there is always room for improvement. Working out with the coaches around here in Calgary - Tom Renney and the others - it will get better. If you can get a little better every day, that's what you want. There are always things to learn, but some of stuff you can really only learn in game situations. The more I get to play, the better I will get.
__________Q: What are your goals from the upcoming 04-05 hockey season?
A: I want to go out there and do the best I can at Training Camp and try to play as many games up in the NHL as possible. But also, if you get sent down, you can't get frustrated and have to work even harder and show that you are improving every day and that you can play at the next level. My goal, like most players, is to play in the NHL all season and stay there.