Welcome to the final part of our Erie Otters Q & A series. We saved the best for last. We saved the one player that the eyes of the hockey world will watch the Otters for this season until the very end. To Jamie Drysdale, it’s just business as usual.
His career to date has been shining in the spotlight. He’s used to constant attention. But now he embarks on his most important season to date. He’s just going out and being his calm, collected self, ready to face what challenges the season will bring him.
We got to sit down with Drysdale this week in advance of the start of the OHL regular season. We discussed the failure of last season, how he spent his summer, his lasting impressions of the Hlinka and why the Otters will be exciting this season. Stay tuned for his answer on superstitions. It’s the best answer I’ve ever had to that question.
Q & A With Jamie Drysdale
THW: In looking back to last season, why do you think the Otters fell short?
Drysdale: “I think there was just a couple of games here and there where we didn’t perform to the level we’re capable of. At the end of the day that’s what it comes down to, games that you want back, mistakes that you made. So this year with no regrets we’ll put everything out there every game to give us the best opportunity to make the playoffs.”
THW: How much do you still think about missing out on the playoffs?
Drysdale: “It’s still in the back of my head ending early like that. Moving forward into the year, no new players, no returning players want to feel that again, so I think that’s just motivation.”
THW: Describe for us what a typical summer day was for you with workouts.
Drysdale: “I go to the gym in the morning normally at 9 or 10 A.M. After that, I’ll go home, nap, get some food. Then I’ll go have a skate, whether it’s with power edge pro just working on my evasiveness, using obstacles or whether it was (with a) skating coach or just a personal private skate, I’m working on things I think I need to work on.”
THW: What are your fondest memories of your time at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup?
Drysdale: “Just spending time with the guys and playing against all the best competition in the world. I met a bunch of new people on my team. (Also) the opportunity to go to Europe and experience that, that is a memory I will have forever.”
THW: Fun question. What is one thing you learned about someone at the Hlinka that you didn’t know before?
Drysdale: “One guy told me he was almost legally blind. A teammate. I’m not going to disclose the name of that player (nor should he!) He’s doing perfectly fine for himself. That’s probably the most shocking thing.”
THW: You are used to being in the spotlight. How do you not let the distractions get to you?
Drysdale: “I just don’t really think about it. I kind of keep that stuff in the back of my head and just play my game and do what’s been working for me. As I continue to do that, hopefully good things will continue to come.”
THW: I know you don’t think about the draft all that much right now. But knowing it’s in Montreal, how cool would it be to hear your name early on in that city, in that building?
Drysdale: “Yeah that’d be pretty cool, especially as a Canadian. Having the draft in Montreal, not just for myself but for anyone, I think that would be an unbelievable experience.”
THW: Why did you decide to become a defenseman given the offensive ability you have?
Drysdale: “I used to be a forward then my coach switched me up. Up until minor midget, my coaches would still try to put me up front. I really don’t know why. I’m pretty comfortable with an offensive role given them an offensive d-man.”
THW: Which defenseman do you model yourself after?
Drysdale: “There’s a couple, I’m not going to lie it switches. My most typical answer would a guy like Morgan Rielly or Travis Dermott who played here a younger guy like that. (They’re guys) who play both ends of the ice well and who can contribute on both sides.”
THW: Do you have any game day superstitions that you have to do every time before a game starts?
Drysdale: “To be completely honest with you, I don’t have any. I feel like if you have too many and you don’t do them, then it will be a mental game and in your head. Obviously there are things I do, get here three hours before the game, stick handle stuff like it. I don’t let stuff like that get in my head.”
THW: You get to play against Quinton Byfield on Friday night. What makes it fun and what makes it challenging to play against him?
Drysdale: “He’s a player, that’s for sure. He’s got a big frame. It will be really fun. It’s always a challenge to play a guy like that. I look forward to it and hopefully I can get out there a couple of times against him.”
THW: And finally, why do you think the 2019-20 Erie Otters will be exciting?
Drysdale: “I think just because of our group. The bond we’ve built so far is really good. I think that will translate really well on the ice. I think we’re older and much deeper with all four lines and some returning players that I’ve noticed that have really come along and look really good out here. So I’m excited for what we can bring.”
Drysdale was named one of the alternate captains this season along with Hayden Fowler, Kurtis Henry, Max Golod and Chad Yetman. Jack Duff will captain the Otters this season. They can’t wait to get it going. Friday night at Erie Insurance Arena, they will get their chance. We thank Drysdale for his time as well as the others who helped us with these Q & A’s.
Welcome to the regular season, fans. Enjoy the show.