Early this season, there was a whole lot of shootouts for the Wild. As a guy who’s typically not going to have his number called to participate, what’s it like?
It’s obviously important to get those points but I had no pressure that I was going to go in the shootout. We have a lot of talent up front and a lot of guys who can score.
Have you ever been in one?
Back in Juniors and I scored actually. If they called my name I’d be ready.
How far down the list would they have to go before they got to “Scandella”?
About 15th. Just ahead of Konopka.
Early this season, you spent a few games in the press box but something has clicked since then. What’s different?
Just getting better every day, working in practice, taking one shift at a time and just learning. It’s a new season and it didn’t start off the way I wanted it to, but me and Spurge (Jared Spurgeon) are finding some good chemistry. Watching (Ryan) Suter out there you learn things and I’m just trying to get better every day.
Into this season you held the Wild franchise record for time on ice in a single game at 35:32. Thanks to Suter that record has been obliterated a couple of times. What’s it like for you, as a young defenseman, to watch what Suter does on a nightly and shift-by-shift basis?
Yeah, I’m not too happy he broke my record, (laughs), but he’s a machine, a great player and an all-star. You just learn off of guys like that, he’s been around a long time and he makes it look effortless.
He doesn’t strike me as the most vocal of teammates but are you able to pick his brain on occasion?
The best thing is to just watch him play and watch him go out there shift after shift and do the right things every time. He’s obviously a great guy to learn off of, he’s a humble guy and when he says something everyone listens.
What is it about the chemistry between you and Jared Spurgeon that seems to work so well?
He likes to make that simple play and jump into the rush and I feel like we find each other on the ice with a lot of talk. We’ve been playing together on and off for about three or four years now and we’re getting to know each other a lot better.
What makes Spurgeon such a force on the blue line? If you look at him you’d never say, “Yep, NHL defenseman,” yet he continues to perform on a high level for this team.
Spurge is unbelievable at being at the right position. He thinks the game a level ahead of some guys. He’s got that for him. He’s got a lot of talent and he can skate. He’s got a lot of tools.
How tough was it last season going from a prominent role with the Wild two years ago to only getting six games last year and spending the bulk of the year in Houston?
It was a mental battle but I overcame that. It’s not easy to get hurt and not get back into the lineup. Those are things you have to learn as a young guy and battle through it and take it one day at a time and just play good hockey because you’re going to get your chance back.
You’re from Montreal, so of course you’ve got your French background plus speaking to you I can tell your English is perfect. But I understand you’re fluent in Italian as well?
My dad was born in Italy and my mom is second generation Italian. My dad only spoke to me in Italian growing up and since my dad immigrated we had to go to French immersion school. So I have three languages under my belt, it’s super useful and I like that.