Saturday, June 23, 2012

Interview with CBJ Forward Mark Letestu

Last night I had the pleasure of chatting with Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL) forward Mark Letestu, who was signing autographs at the minor hockey registration in Elk Point, AB (our hometown). I asked him about a variety of topics and here's what he had to say:

Me: Did you watch the NHL Draft today?
Mark: I think I got to pick 6 or pick 5 - Toronto just selected Morgan Rielly - so I saw a little bit of it [before I had to leave to come here]. A few trades, pretty exciting, seemed to be a good atmosphere in Pittsburgh.

Me: What do you think of Columbus' selection (defenseman Ryan Murray)?
Mark: I think they got the guy they wanted. It sounded like Murray was somebody they were happy with. Obviously the new coach (Associate Coach Hartsburg) coached him in junior so they had some background on him and by all accounts the [CBJ management] seem to think he's ready and someone we can rely on for help, which is great.

Me: Do you feel like this season you'll get to play a bigger role since you're not a rookie or "the new guy"?
Mark: I don't know. I'm hoping for a bigger role. In the last little bit of last season I played a big role, I played a lot of minutes, so I'm hoping to stay in that role, but we weren't a winning team last year and I expect them to make a lot of changes, to shuffle things up, to get a winning combination, so if [I end up in] a smaller role or a bigger role, I'm happy to be a part of it anyway.

Me: What are your expectations for yourself and for the team this season?
Mark: I think it's obvious to say that we want to be better than last place. [I hope] we give ourselves a chance at the end to be in the playoffs. We finished strong and we'd like to continue that, and hopefully it gives us a chance at one of those 8 spots. For myself, I'd like to get a healthy year. It's been two years now that I've been hurt at some point. I'd like to play all 82 games.

Me: What are you focusing on this summer?
Mark: It seems the cliche is [to say] to get stronger and faster - you're always trying to do those things - but this year I've been trying to loosen up a little bit. The injury prevention is big now. You're always getting stronger or quicker throughout the season but you're just trying to prevent injuries and hopefully have a strong year.

Me: How has becoming a father changed your game?
Mark: I don't know if it has changed my game a lot but it definitely changes the way you approach things. Obviously it's another person relying on you and your success. It's something [my wife] and I have talked about - wanting [our son] to see me as a hockey player, to hopefully stay in the league long enough that he gets to understand what dad does and hopefully he gets to experience a little bit of hockey and maybe take it up on his own.

Me: What are your thoughts on the new CBJ coaching staff?
Mark: I don't know them personally. I haven't had an opportunity to talk to any of them. I think obviously with the draft and free agency coming up, the current players kind of come after all that, so from what I've seen, they seem to be more than qualified. Craig has head coaching experience in the NHL and Keith will fill in that penalty killing role and really help there. We struggled on that this year. As many coaches on the bench as possible, with a young group, as many people teaching - if you can pick up a think or two along the way, it's great. I'm happy they brought in as many guys as they did.

Me: Are you tired of switching jersey numbers?
Mark: I didn't want to switch this last time. Probably the toughest part is [remembering to sign the correct number and] not screwing up somebody's hockey card. This time 10 wasn't available. I would have liked to stay with 10. At the time I think I was given 6, 12 or 17 to choose from and 17 seemed like the right one. I won't change it [back to 10 if it were available] now - somebody has probably bought [a CBJ jersey with 17] so [I'll stick with it].

Me: I see Tim Hortons is popular in Columbus - are you a fan?
Mark: I'm not a huge fan. I'll have it if I have to. But it's kind of a friendly reminder of where you're from.

Me: Are you on Twitter?
Mark: I am but I'm not "out there". I'm kind of under the radar. I like to get my baseball and my hockey news [on Twitter] but I don't like being followed. It seems like a lot of guys put themselves out there for some criticism and at the end of the day sometimes after a bad game you don't need to hear any of that.

Me: What is the best part of coming to an event like this?
Mark: It's pretty cool to see all the kids and to help minor hockey. I've always been proud of being from Elk Point so any chance I get to come back and help out, whether it's at a small level like this, just minor hockey, or any kind of event the town needs, it's just really gratifying and it's happy. It's a perfect compliment to the career.

Thanks again Mark for your time! Hope we can chat again next summer.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

NHL Awards Done, Draft on Friday

I've never paid much attention to the NHL Awards - I usually disagree with the selections - but I tuned in for a bit since there were two Oilers players nominated this year (Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins). Alas, neither won, but I'm still proud of both of them for their great seasons and the nominations.

Now for the draft! The first round goes Friday and the rest of the rounds are on Saturday. I'll be tuning in to see who my Oilers select with their 3rd consecutive 1st-overall pick. I read a great article about top prospect Nail Yakupov, so I won't mind if they take him, but I'd really like them to take one of the great Canadian defensemen. I guess I'll see what happens Friday.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

DIY Custom Keyboard - NHL Team Logos

Using my favorite magazine, The Hockey News, and some packing tape, I customized my keyboard with NHL team logos. You can do it with any magazine or laser-printed pictures you like. It's easy and durable but shouldn't damage your keys if you ever want to remove it. It would be fun to do with a large picture that's cut into key-sized pieces, especially on a white keyboard. You could also do large letters if you have trouble reading your keys.

- magazine
- packing tape
- scissors
- dish of warm water
- keyboard

1. Cut out the pictures slightly smaller than the keys.

2. Stick packing tape to the fronts and rub it down so it's stuck really well.

3. Soak the tape in warm water and gently rub the paper off the back, leaving just the ink on the tape. Let dry.

4. Trim around the pictures, leaving a thin edge of tape. Stick onto your keys. DONE!

Monday, June 11, 2012

30 NHL Team Pocket Schedule Project

I've been working on this post for months and will continue to update it as responses come in, but since the season is now over (congratulations to the LA Kings on their first Stanley Cup), I thought I'd post it.

As the 2011-12 NHL season began to wind down, I had an idea: since my son was born at the beginning of the season, I would try to collect pocket schedules from all 30 teams for his keepsake box. I went on the teams' websites to find their contact information and any specifications for requesting pockets schedules and/or fan packs. Some teams accept e-mail requests, some require a SASE, and some don't give any information, so I just hand-wrote them a nice letter and fired it in the mail. Here is what I got back:

Anaheim Ducks: 1 pocket schedule, 1 player card, 2 decals
Boston Bruins:
Buffalo Sabres: 1 pocket schedule, 1 magnet, 1 window decal
Calgary Flames: 3 player cards, 6 stickers
Carolina Hurricanes: 1 sticker, 2 tattoos, 2 cards
Chicago Blackhawks:
Colorado Avalanche: 4 pocket schedules
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Dallas Stars: 1 pocket schedule, 1 player card
Detroit Red Wings: 1 tattoo, 1 sticker, 1 decal, 2 player cards
Edmonton Oilers:
Florida Panthers: 3 pocket schedules
Los Angeles Kings:
Minnesota Wild:
Montreal Canadiens: 5 player cards, 1 sticker
Nashville Predators: 1 pocket schedule
New Jersey Devils: 2 pocket schedules
New York Islanders:
New York Rangers: 4 pocket schedules, 4 wallet card schedules
Ottawa Senators: e-mailed to inform me that they did not produce a paper schedule
Philadelphia Flyers:
Phoenix Coyotes: 2 pocket schedules
Pittsburgh Penguins: 2 pocket schedules
San Jose Sharks: 1 pocket schedule, 1 magnet, 1 sticker, 3 tattoos, 5 cards
St. Louis Blues: 3 pocket schedules, 2 decals
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Vancouver Canucks: 5 players cards, 1 decal
Washington Capitals:
Winnipeg Jets:

Friday, June 1, 2012

DIY Zamboni (Papercraft)

I designed this to use as party favor boxes with the intention of having kids color and asssemble them. I printed them on different colored cardstock.