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Getting to know ... Pascal Leclaire

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
New Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire wants to quickly gain the trust of his teammates when he begins to suit up for the team next season (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/NHLI via Getty Images).
You’re not in Columbus anymore, Pascal Leclaire.

After spending the past four-plus seasons in the shadow of the Ohio State Buckeyes in a football-mad city, Leclaire has quickly warmed up to life in Hockey Country. He hasn’t played a game yet for the Ottawa Senators but he’s already becoming a familiar face to fans around the capital.

“Since I’ve been in Ottawa, I’ve been stopped and talked to by more people than I was in four or five years in Columbus,” said Leclaire, acquired March 4 from the Blue Jackets in exchange for centre Antoine Vermette.

“You can pretty much go under the radar (as a hockey player) there.”

Leclaire took a break from rehabbing his broken ankle at Scotiabank Place to give readers a glimpse into a personality that figures to be hit with Senators fans real soon.

Q: Who was your goaltending idol growing up?
A: Patrick Roy. I liked Ron Hextall when I was a kid, too, but being from Montreal, Patrick Roy was the main guy. Him and Marty Brodeur are probably my two all-time favourites.

Q: If you weren’t a goalie, what position would you like to play?
A: In my dreams, I would like to be a high-scoring forward. A highly-skilled centre man.

Q: If you could play any other sport for a living, what would it be?
A: The last few years, I really got into soccer. I watch the English Premier League quite a bit now. I just think it looks cool. The big soccer stars look cool. I like playing tennis, too. I’m really bad at it but I like the sport.

"Since I've been in Ottawa, I've been stopped and talked to by more people than I was in four or five years in Columbus. You can pretty much go under the radar (as a hockey player) there." - Pascal Leclaire
Q: Do you have a favourite English Premier League team?
A: I like Manchester United. They always have the good players. I was a big David Beckham fan. I got the chance to see him play live when (the L.A. Galaxy of Major League Soccer) played in Columbus. I also like Cristiano Ronaldo, so that’s why I probably like Manchester.

Q: When you were in Columbus, which Senators player would you have least liked to face in a shootout?
A: Probably Jason Spezza. He’s got that long stick and some pretty good moves.

Q: What do like most about the idea of playing in a Canadian city?
A:  The attention around hockey. Just that vibe, that hockey is the main thing in the city and the people really care about it. I find it’s a great challenge and really motivating to do well.

Q: What will be like to hear ‘starting in goal for the Senators, Pascal Leclaire’ for the first time?
A: It’ll be pretty fun. Obviously, I want to do well. As a new guy, you want to gain the confidence of your teammates and that’s the most important thing for me.

Q: What was it like last year to represent your country at a world hockey championship played in your home province?
A: It was pretty exciting. I played three years of junior hockey in Halifax, too (for the Mooseheads), and the first part of the tournament was there. It was definitely the best group of players I’ve ever been involved with. It was a huge honour and it was exciting to be a part of that. Just to put that jersey on … it’s pretty special to play for your country.

Q: So you still feel a connection to Halifax?
A: I still keep really close ties with my billet family and I talk to them once a month. When I got there, they had a son my age, so that it made it a lot easier for me. We’re far away and sometimes, it’s hard, but I try to see them once a year. My billet mom – actually both of the parents – were huge Ottawa Senators fans when I was a kid. They had to switch over to Columbus but now they can go back to their roots. They’re pretty excited for me. It’s going to be easier for them to follow me.

"I liked Ron Hextall when I was a kid, but being from Montreal, Patrick Roy was the main guy. Him and Marty Brodeur are probably my two all-time favourites." - Pascal Leclaire
Q: What’s your favourite NHL city to visit?
A: I like going to L.A. It used to be coming to Montreal and doing that swing, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. That was fun. They’re big hockey markets and there was a lot of attention on the game. I really like going to Chicago, too, and New York. All the big ones. L.A. is fun because of the nice weather. You get to eat breakfast outside.

Q: If someone made a movie about your life, who gets to play you?
A: Everybody probably says Brad Pitt, right? Probably him. I think he’s a cool dude.

Q: If you were in a karaoke bar, what song would you sing?
A: Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson, is my favourite song ever, but I don’t think I can sing it. My buddy and I bought that Rock Band, Guitar Hero thing after I had surgery and we sang a lot. We sang Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer. We got to yell a lot and hit the high notes, so I’d probably like to do that one.

Q: If you could invite any three people to dinner, living or dead, who would you choose?
A: Kanye West, Will Ferrell and Eva Mendes.

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