For Episode 5 of our 2013 Summer with the Stars off-season feature, we decided to stay in Red Deer, Alberta for the second straight week. Texas Stars broadcaster Owen Newkirk interviewed the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer Matt Fraser. Below are some highlights of our conversation with the Stars left wing, along with a link to the full audio interview.
Listen: CLICK HERE.
Winter in Texas and summer in Alberta, do you feel like you get the best of both worlds as far as weather is concerned?
Yeah seriously, I don’t even need long pants anymore! [Laughs] The weather is actually starting to smarten up a little bit, it’s pretty nice for the past week or so. The couple weeks before that it was pretty wet out, I’m sure everyone heard about what happened in Southern Alberta… if anyone knows where Alberta is. [Laughs] Seriously though, lots of devastation there, but it’s starting to turn around now and actually feel like summer.
We spoke with fellow Red Deer resident Colton Sceviour last week and he heard rumors that the Saddledome was only a few rows of flooding away from the water reaching the suite level and main concourse and then the building would have been a total loss. A kid who grew up and lives in Alberta, could you even imagine losing the Saddledome?
Probably next to the Calgary Tower, the Saddledome is the next most significant thing in Calgary. There would be havoc. I could not even imagine how that would affect the city of Calgary and even Southern Alberta.
What did you do to celebrate Canada Day on Monday?
You know what? [Laughs] I actually didn’t do too much. There were some fireworks out at the lake nearby our house, probably about 15 minutes away. We usually go up there, but I didn’t make it out there, just kind of puttered around the yard a bit and did some stuff. I’m getting too old to start celebrating Canada Day, [Laughs] that’s what I like to tell my parents anyway.
Have you gotten over the post-playoff relax mode and into your summer training regimen now?
Yup. I am well into it; I think it’s my fourth or fifth week into it. I took a week off after the season to let my finger heal from playoffs, kind of let the body relax a little bit and got right back into it. I don’t like taking too much time away from the gym, and preparing my body, I feel like I lose a little bit too much. It was nice to get back in there.
Dallas announced on Tuesday that Luke Gazdic has been re-signed for the 2013-14 season. How important is his re-signing to the Texas Stars, not just one the ice, but also in the locker room?
You can’t even explain how much he means to our team. Gazzy is such a unique individual in the way that he presents himself on and off the ice. Especially for guys like me, he creates a lot of room out there for us. So many people see what he does on the ice, and see how good he is at it, but no one really understands what he’s like in the room and what he brings and the passion he brings to the game and our team and the winning. He’s a guy that you have on your team that will help win a championship. I think that is something very special in a player and something that no one can ever take away from him.
What are some of the goals that you’re really driving towards achieving for the 2013-14 season?
I’m not big on setting goals for myself. I don’t like to set goals where I want this many goals and this many assists and whatever that may be. I think that at the end of the year if I can sit down and look at myself in the mirror and ask myself if I’ve gotten better, then that’s all I need. I think often times guys, especially goal scorers, they get so caught up on how many goals they have to score or whatever it may be. I think as a player, especially in pro being such an up and down season, you just have to sit back and realize you got better as a player, you got better in the three zones of the ice and you improved as a player. I think that’s all you can really ask for at the end of the year.
What was it like playing junior hockey against Coach Willie Desjardins in Medicine Hat when you were playing for the Kootenay Ice?
Oh, it was exactly what it’s like playing under him. Fast-paced team, move the puck, get your feet moving and get things going. Playing against the Tigers they were always like that, they were always quick, fast and a pacey team and I think that’s what Willie really instilled in us this year. It started right at the first day of camp. All-season he knew exactly what he wanted from us and we knew exactly what he wanted from us as well. He’s all-around just a great coach and he’s one guy who’s going to have a bright future in the NHL as a head coach.
After missing the playoffs during your rookie season with the Stars, how much fun was last year in terms of wins and losses and making the playoffs?
Oh yeah! Words can’t really describe how our team was this year. We started slow and everyone was thinking “here we go again.” Then it kind of clicked and it started going and we were one of the elite teams in the league. Obviously playoffs didn’t go as well as we wanted to, but you take the positives from the season and bring them into the next.
Last year in the NHL you traveled with Dallas to St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, San Jose, Anaheim Phoenix and Columbus. What’s it like to do the NHL circuit on a charter plane as opposed to riding the bus or flying commercial in the AHL?
Yeah… that’s the NHL in a nutshell. You get on the plane, there’s no security, or very little, you sit down and you can have whatever you want to drink or eat. You definitely get spoiled. As a rookie you feel a little out of place, almost. But I think that’s just part of the experience and part of being a young guy in the NHL. You’re not used to something like that and you’ve got to take that in stride. As nice as it may be, it’s only there if you’re there. It gives you a little more incentive to work hard to get there and do what you can to stay there.
-- Texas Stars --