Tuesday, July 28, 2009

One on One with Drew Stafford

Welcome Sioux Hockey fans!! Have you ever wondered what happens when the Sioux leave school to start their professional career? Well, here is my chance to get inside their heads, ask them hockey questions, some non-hockey questions, and bring those interviews to you eager readers! First one in the line-up is Buffalo Sabres forward, Drew Stafford.

Drew Stafford, the 22 year old Shattuck-St. Mary’s product played at UND for three years before joining the Buffalo Sabres who drafted him 13th overall in the first round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in November 2006, scoring his first goal in his first game against the New York Rangers and eventually making it to post-season that same year. While he doesn’t have any notable milestones yet in his career, he credits just making the league a huge accomplishment.

“I think making the team is a big step. Last year was my first full season on the team so that was an accomplishment in itself. The first year I made it to the playoffs so we did pretty well.”

The Sabres, one of the up and coming young teams in the league join the likes of the Blackhawks, Blues, and Devils in showcasing their young talent. The connection with all of these teams is the core of this young talent is UND players whom Stafford played with and still keeps in contact with.

The young energy in the locker room is just that, as our interview is often playfully interrupted with tape balls being thrown, small whoots in response to questions, but the main distraction is when a teammate puts on a familiar song to Stafford. “It’s one of my songs. In my spare time between training and all that stuff; I take a couple of days off and fire off a couple songs with Jord and a couple other buddies doing it with me”.

Jordan Parise, band-mate and former teammate, is playing overseas in Austria, making practice a little tough during the season. They are working on a demo with a couple of songs now, hoping for a full album next summer. Stafford recognizes this is his off-season hobby so things are on hold now. From what I’ve heard, these guys have some talent off the ice too. Look for them in the music stores and on-line in the future!

The Milwaukee, WI native was excited to get back into the Midwest. Stafford was sure he would have plenty of family and friends watching him while he played against the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks in late October, both being in close proximity. His teammate, Thomas Vanek, played at Minnesota during the same time Stafford was at UND. As Minnesota and Wisconsin two of his favorite college opponents to play, he has the utmost respect and admiration for Vanek now as his teammate. “I’m happy for him; he’s off to a great start. I’m fortunate to play with him. The past few years when the Gophers play the Sioux, we go and watch the games and we’re laughing about it”.

While he misses the college atmosphere and the student section going wild, Stafford embraces the professional play of the National Hockey League. “You gotta have fun with it, it’s your job. But you have to learn how to be professional about a few things. Those are things I’ve been learning over the past few years”.

Interviewed 10-28-2008
Photo courtesy NHL.com

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