With the NHL draft being an educated crap shoot, the Montreal
Canadiens seem to have gone back to a popular sports adage in recent
draft years…“Offense wins games, but defense wins
In the past two draft years, Montreal has had a total of fifteen draft
selections; of these fifteen selections three players are centers, two are
left wingers, and ten have been defenseman.
The 12th overall pick of the Canadiens in the 07 NHL entry draft was no
different then the current trend of drafting defensemen, and they were
proud to select Minnesota’s own, “Mr. Hockey” Ryan McDonagh.
Ryan was named “Mr. Hockey” for the 06/07 season, as the most the
outstanding senior high school hockey player in the state of Minnesota.
The recipients are reviewed and selected by a group of National Hockey
League scouts and Division I coaches. Ryan was surprised to receive
this award (beating out the 9 other finalists); but especially so when only
two other defenseman have won it since its inception. The 05/06
recipient was fellow defenseman and Canadiens first round draft pick
Ryan was gracious enough to do an interview with me, as he readies
himself for the team’s annual development camp that runs from July
10-15, at the Jacques Lemaire Arena in LaSalle, QC.
HW – At what age did you start playing hockey?
McDonagh – I started playing hockey when I was about 3 years old. My
dad made a rink in our backyard and I would skate outside on the rink
pretty much every day of winter. It wasn’t till I was about 5 that I started
playing organized hockey.
HW – Describe the type of game you play.
McDonagh – I consider myself an all around player. Being a
defenseman, I take pride in being strong in my own end of the ice. I like
to get the puck up and out of the zone quick whether I’m passing it up, or
skating it out of the zone myself. I like to join rushes late and become a
trailer for the forwards. Also, I like to play on the special teams. I take
pride in being out there in those situations and I want to make sure I do
the job on both power play and penalty kill.
HW – What do you feel are your greatest strengths?
McDonagh – My greatest strength has to be my skating ability. With the
size that I am ( 6′ 1” 200lbs), I feel I’m able to handle myself pretty well
with fast, quick forwards.
HW – What current NHL player do you pattern your game after or try to
play like, and why?
McDonagh – I’d say I pattern my game as a combination of Chris Chelios
and Niklas Lidstrom. I say this because both of these guys are great
leaders to their teams and they have had long successful careers in the
NHL. I feel I can be a leader on any team that I play for because I am
someone who likes to lead by example both on and off the ice. Chelios
and Lidstrom play in all situations of the game, similar to what I feel I
can do. They are well respected by everyone in the league, and that is
something I’m always trying to gain.
HW – What part of your game do you think needs improvement?
McDonagh – I think now that I’ll be playing at a faster pace I need to focus
on making quicker decisions with and without the puck. That is
something that I will be able to learn while playing at a higher level at
the University of Wisconsin.
HW – What will you be focusing on during your off-season training?
McDonagh – Becoming stronger and a better overall fitness level. I’ve
been focusing on conditioning a lot more than I used to, because of the
grind that I know I will face while playing a long college season next
HW – You played for the U.S. under 18 team last season, what did you
learn from that experience?
McDonagh – That was an awesome experience for me. I proved to myself
that all the hard work that I’ve put in over the years is paying off. It was
tough for me playing in the high school league and hearing about all
these other top players of my age group playing in these bigger
leagues. I wanted to see if I was able to compete with all these players
that I hear about and I felt that I was stride in stride with all the players at
that tournament. It was a great feeling for me by the fact that I wasn’t
losing anything talent and skill wise to other players of my age
HW – What does it mean to you to be selected by the Canadiens?
McDonagh – It is a tremendous honor. Being drafted by one of the
original six teams is a great feeling. The rich tradition that the
Canadiens franchise has is something I am somewhat familiar with, and
very excited to help continue that tradition that has been built. My high
school has a great tradition of winning and having professional athletes
come out of that school. I will do whatever is best for the Canadiens
franchise, and help them be as successful as possible.
HW – Do you know anybody else on the Canadiens?
McDonagh – I don’t know anyone on the big club, but I am friends and
played with their first selection in last years draft (06′) David Fischer. We
played together last fall so I know David a little bit and watched him play
a lot this year at the University of Minnesota.
HW – Were you told to work on any part of your game by the Canadiens
McDonagh – I have not sat down with the Canadiens staff yet to discuss
anything of that detail. I’ll be attending the prospect camp this following
week so hopefully I’ll be able to find out more from their end on what
they feel I need to do to get better for the franchise and my
HW – What goals have you set for yourself in 07/08?
McDonagh – I’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin this fall and
playing college hockey in the WCHA. I hope that I can bring a style of
play that is significant to what Wisconsin is known for. I want to do
whatever I can to help the team win no matter what they demand of me. I
hope I can go in and get adjusted quickly so I can start to play my style
of game and be an effective player for our team.
HW – What is the significance of your jersey number?
McDonagh – I’ve worn the number 17 since my freshmen year of high
school. It’s significant to me because it was the jersey number I earned
my freshmen year. Not a lot of freshmen make their high school’s
varsity team, but I was fortunate enough to make mine. I was given the
number 17 then and have worn it ever since.
HW – Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
McDonagh – I hope to be playing in the NHL for the Canadiens franchise.
I hope to be an effective player for them and do whatever I can to help
HW – What is your greatest moment in hockey so far?
McDonagh – Winning the state high school hockey championship in
Minnesota. Growing up in Minnesota it is every kid’s dream to one day
play in the state championship and win it. To accomplish that with my
teammates was something very special and something I will never
Quick fire Profile
Q – How do you like to spend your free time?
McDonagh – I like to go to the beach and go to cabins up in northern
Q – What is your favorite Music group/singer?
McDonagh –Tim McGraw
Q – What is your favorite movie?
McDonagh – Miracle (based on the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal
Q – What is your favorite food?
McDonagh – Steak
Q – What’s your biggest pet peeve?
McDonagh – Getting in my car when there’s no gas left in it.
Q – What do your teammates tease you about the most?
McDonagh – They tease me about my little brother.
Q – Do you have a nickname?
McDonagh – McD
Q – Who was your favorite NHL team growing up?
McDonagh – When the Wild were formed they became my favorite, but
growing up, I always liked the Avalanche.
Thanks again to Ryan for taking the time to do this interview when the
prospects camp is only a few short days away.