28-year-old Defenseman Mark Fistric is currently assigned to the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia, the Admirals. The left-handed shot brings veteran leadership to Norfolk’s blue line.
Since clearing waivers in January, Fistric has played well on the blue line for Norfolk often being paired with younger defensive prospects.
TheHockeyWriters.com caught up with Fistric after a recent practice and conducted a Q&A style interview with the Edmonton, Alberta native
THW: You play with an edge, you’re a very physical player. Have you always played that way?
M.F.: Yes, I’ve always played that way. I enjoy that side of the game and I think that is one of my biggest strengths.
THW: Although you’re in the AHL you’re surrounded by younger players, as an older guy do the prospects help you stay young?
M.F.: Not really. Twenty-eight is not that old, but it’s nice having young guys come around and they’re learning and watching them progress throughout the year is great to see.
THW: Most of the time the story is that the vets teach the prospects, do you feel that you can learn things from younger guys here?
M.F.: (Laughs) You can’t really teach an old dog new tricks. I’m just here to get the love back for the game and to play that way and I guess the young guys around will definitely aid that.
THW: How are you adjusting to life in the AHL after being in the NHL for several years?
M.F.: It’s an adjustment. Obviously, I’ve had some injuries that are going to take their toll when the AHL schedule gets pretty grueling. The three-in-threes, playing on the weekend, and the long bus trips are something that will be hard to manage, but it’s a challenge I choose to accept and have to maintain throughout the year.
THW: What’s the toughest adjustment on ice?
M.F.: Just the speed itself. The speed and the positioning of players are a lot different. I think guys are still learning at the American League level and in the NHL they’re expected to be in a certain place at a certain time and plays that are made at a level in the NHL that aren’t quite made here as much.
THW: What’s the biggest difference between the NHL and the AHL?
M.F.: I just think the top lines are the biggest difference. The high-end skilled guys are phenomenal and they’re world class and I think that’s the biggest difference. When you’re going against the NHL’s top two lines they’re elite.
THW: Does it feel good to be playing everyday now?
M.F.: Yes, it’s fun. It’s good to be relied on a bit and know that you’re playing every game is definitely nice for the confidence as well to know that you’re coming to the game ready to play.
THW: Do the Admirals try and implement Anaheim’s systems here in the AHL?
M.F.: For the most part, it’s pretty easy. I know I kind of jumped into the two games last weekend. Positionally and systematically I didn’t feel out-of-place. So I think it’s very similar.
THW: You played in Dallas and Edmonton. What makes Anaheim different?
M.F.: Just depth. I think in terms of when I played in Dallas and Edmonton we didn’t have the depth and we had a lot of rotating guys where in Anaheim things are pretty much set and there are a lot of guys coming up pushing for spots.
THW: You’re playing with the Ducks of tomorrow so to speak, is the future bright for Anaheim?
M.F.: I think so. There are a lot of good guys that are going to be relied on in a Ducks uniform for many years to come. They have a few guys who have played here for a few years like Hampus and Sami. Those guys are up their contributing a very big part for the team.
THW: The AHL is all about development. Even though you’re an established NHL guy, how are you
using the AHL to get better?
M.F.: Just getting the minutes in and playing hockey. I think that when you’re up there and you’re not in the lineup very often and you’re sitting out for a long time you kind of get a little stale and you get rusty. I think it’s nice to come down here and get the confidence back and get playing to where I need to be.
THW: Getting back to the NHL is the goal for you. What do you need to do to get back there or is it a numbers game?
M.F.: It’s more of a numbers game I think. Obviously I was always the odd man out from the summer on out. So I think for me it’s just playing hockey for fun. I kind of stopped worrying about anything else management wise or where I’m going to be the next day. I’m just coming to play hockey. I think with the age and how I’ve been around, I don’t trouble myself with that anymore.
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Ted grew up in Virginia. Warren has a passion for the AHL and dishes out articles about the Norfolk Admirals and the AHL. Follow him on Twitter @bauerhockeydude