Throughout the 2013 off-season TexasStarsHockey.com will be checking in with the players to see how their summer is going. We will be posting a weekly audio interview with Texas Stars broadcaster Owen Newkirk joined by a Stars’ player or coach, asking about everything from off-season conditioning to vacation time to the Stars’ Fifth Anniversary season coming up in 2013-14. In our first episode of Summer with the Stars we welcome one of the original Texas Stars, Francis Wathier. Below are some highlights of our conversation with the Stars veteran forward, along with a link to the full audio interview.
Listen: Part 1 > CLICK HERE.
Listen: Part 2 > CLICK HERE.
Unlike most of the team, you’re actually staying in Cedar Park this summer. Why are you not going back to Canada?
Well, two things this summer. My wife is pregnant with a little girl, our third baby. We are expecting in August our new addition, so any time of flying or driving back to Canada was out of the equation. I don’t want to do that with my wife. With our circumstances, we decided to stay in Texas and we’re happy to.
Second of all we’re building a house here in Austin. We’re in the building process right now. It should be ready… the builder told us end of July, the contractor said aim for end of August. Hopefully end of July we’ll be able to move into our new house and then from there have the baby in the beginning of August.
You played in your 10th NHL game this year for Dallas on April 1st against Anaheim. Were you surprised when you got the call to play and how did it rate compared to your NHL debut?
It could be your first or you tenth or your hundredth, it’s always special to play in the NHL. So many guys take it for granted, but guys like us that bounce around the American league for a long time, when you get there you’re so happy. You want to do anything to stay there. Obviously that’s everyone’s goal and that’s my goal. It doesn’t matter if it’s my last game in the NHL, I really hope there’s a lot more coming, but I left everything in that game and I’m really proud what I did during that game.
You’re still nervous, but you’re way more comfortable. You’re four years older as well, you have more experience. You know that if you miss a pass or make a mistake, it happens, it’s a game. You just have to make sure it doesn’t happen again or make sure you’re not putting yourself in a position to make another one. In the NHL, if you make one mistake and it’s probably going to be in the back of your net. In the American League, if you make one or two, the second one will be in your net.
There is a great photograph of you and Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford embracing during the handshake line after the Stars eliminated the Admirals in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. What did you say to each other?
He was wishing me good luck and he was kind of happy, he was like “Well, if we’re done, at least I’m not going to see you in the corner anymore.”
You really went after him too…!
Well, I go after him every time and I know he’s coming in front and he’s going to lay that lumber in my back. (He Laughs) Last year, Tyler Sloan was playing for Milwaukee. I did not know him at all and I used to hate him, HATE HIM, because I used to hit him so hard and ask him to fight and he would never want to. But then he would slash me behind the knees and I would retaliate and get a penalty. So he was really smart. Same thing with Antoine Roussel, last year. Just a little bugger that I fought. To this day I can say I beat him up pretty good and now this year I can call him one of my really, really good friends on this team. It’s a small world. We’re playing a game, but when you are on the ice, it’s definitely not the person that you are. It's two different things.
You're the only player in Texas Stars history to score a playoff short-handed goal. What was the feeling like to score that and what was the crowd reaction in Game 3 of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals against Hershey at Cedar Park Center?
Hershey has great fans, one of the best in the league, and it was loud there…11,000, it was loud! But we get here with 7,000 fans… 4,000 less and it was loud, it was unbelievable! The National Anthem we could barely hear it. I can say that we have the best fans in the league, year after year.
To score that goal, I still remember because it was kind of like a fluke goal but it went in and it counted. I'm glad it did. It was unbelievable! It was 3-1 after the first period and in my mind if we're able to hold on and beat this team then [the Finals were] in the books.
Because of the fact that the Texas Stars were in first place for so long, and first overall in the league… not just fan, but player expectation changes. And so as the Finals start there is that nagging, do you think that you could have been there?
Obviously. I really believe that the lowest that we would get to would be the Western Conference Finals. I was like: once we’re there it’s on us to grab it. Teams will beat us, but they cannot beat four straight, or four total in a series. But that's hockey and then you learn. You've got to learn, because you can't just go “pity me, pity me” and draw excuses. Sometimes it's good to get that little sweet bite and then that lemon taste, so you make sure next year you remember you want don’t want to be in the same position.
-- Texas Stars --