When The Hockey Writers talked to 20-year-old Damon Severson after the final preseason game for the New Jersey Devils, he had no idea if he would still be in New Jersey the following day or heading to Albany to play in the AHL. During the interview, at our feet sat the bag that his hockey gear goes into; without a professional team logo on it — he was still using his bag from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. The most noticeable thing during the session was the confidence he exuded, almost too cool, as if nothing was going to phase him.
A former colleague of ours at THW Andy Eide wrote the Next Ones (I believe it was his first one) profile of Severson (pronounced SEE-verson) and covered him on his WHL beat from Seattle. We often chatted about him over the last year, and everything Andy told me has been spot on including: “good kid, has the media thing down for when he gets to NJ” which (I think) you will see in the upcoming interview.
At press time Severson has played in all three of the Devils games this season (all on the road), often paired alongside their best defenseman Andy Greene; often playing against the opposition’s top line. In his second game in Florida on October 11 the rookie netted his first goal and recorded his first assist in a 5-1 victory over the Panthers.
Damon Severson scores his first NHL goal on Roberto Luongo in a rout:
The Hockey Writers: Do you think you did all you were capable of to make this team?
Damon Severson: I feel like yeah, I feel like overall I did all I can. Obviously there was a few mistakes in the preseason I’d like to have back, but that’s part of the preseason; what it’s there for — you’re there to learn. I hope that they see…I felt like I was really comfortable out there, I felt like I did the best I could and put my best foot forward. Hopefully I’m on this team.
THW: The fact you are still here and played in the last 2-3 games, that has to maybe make you feel good about your chances of sticking here?
DS: I think so. Anytime you are playing the majority of the games your confidence grows and they obviously want to see more and more (of you). You hope they like what they are seeing and hopefully I did enough to make this team.
THW: As a 20-year-old do you get star struck at all with some of the names here in this locker room? Guys that have won Stanley Cups like Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Michael Ryder…
DS: Not necessarily star struck; maybe when you first see their face when you first get here. Last year (at training camp) when I first saw those guys for the first time, you just say ‘hi, nice to meet you’. They’re icons in this league, they’re veteran guys who have been here a while and (smiles) they’re here for a reason. Now that I’ve met them and been around them weeks at a time – got more comfortable around them; it’s been really good. It’s definitely easier on me and knowing that I can talk to them whenever I need, they are there for me whenever I need any help.
THW: I have a buddy that covers the WHL and he would feed me updates about your game in Kelowna; for those that don’t know tell us what your time there was like.
DS: I felt like I had a very progressive career, I think that’s one way to put it. I just got better every year as the years went on — I played four years with the Kelowna Rockets and I very much enjoyed my time there. They treated me like a professional, with respect and I came to the rink everyday wanting to get better. I think it showed, not only in my stats, but also in my overall game. Now coming here (to New Jersey) I’m more confident and I’m doing all I can to make this team.
THW: Have the Devils coaching staff given you any clue as to what they might do? If they did you probably wouldn’t tell us right?
DS: They haven’t really told me much. This is an intense, tight (lipped) organization with regards to the media (smiles) and the players know. So they keep EVERYTHING in close, but (for me) that’s no problem. As long as I’m playing in these games and sticking around here, that’s enough for me to be happy. I just don’t want to be on this team, I want to be a key contributor.
THW: Let’s say you do get sent down to the AHL, would it be depressing or would you use it as motivation to get back here?
DS: It would be a little bit of both. Obviously it would be disappointing, but you can’t dwell on things like that. That’s one thing they look for when/if guys do get sent down; it’s an attitude thing. Are you going to be the guy who says ‘ah whatever, I got sent down, this sucks’ or are you going to be the guy that wants to be back up (to the NHL) as soon as possible. I want to be here, so I’m going to do everything I can to be in the NHL.
Andy Eide knows the WHL inside and out and can be reached via Twitter: @AndyEide
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.