The 2009 entry draft was filled with excitement, anticipation, and intrigue for the Montreal Canadiens and their fans. Trade rumors swirled through the city for weeks leading up to draft day in Montreal, but nothing could be completed amid some frenzied speculation. However, there was also the draft itself.
Hockey fans across North America had their own personal scouting reports for every player rated in the first two rounds (at least) of the draft but one name in particular seemed to slip under the radar until pick # 79, Mac Bennett.
Mac comes from a deep hockey family and was rated to go much higher then his position of pick #79. One can only assume a mid season injury caused him to slip down through the cracks a bit, because his coach, Damon White, is very high on his current game and future potential. “Mac will play in the NHL one day,” White said. “I don’t think there’s anything stopping him, to be honest. I say that with the feeling he’ll grow to be a 6-2 or 6-3, 205-pound kid who can really skate already.”
While getting ready for his upcoming season, Mac made some time for HW to answer the questions that you, the fans, wrote in with.
HW- Is playing for Gatineau of the QMJHL still something you’d
Mac- I’d say at this point I’m pretty much locked in with University of Michigan. So it really isn’t an option right now. It just seems to be the better fit for me right now to go the college route and join Michigan.
HW-Are you fully recovered from your midseason injury?
Mac-Oh yeah, I’ve been fully recovered since January. It wasn’t that big of a deal really, with rest and rehab I was fine and back at it pretty quickly.
HW-What made you choose Michigan over other schools?
Mac-The Michigan fans are almost as hockey crazy as Montreal is. It’s harder to get a ticket to the hockey games then it is to the football games. The program itself is very good and has put out some very good NHL’ers. The fans really make a difference when you’re playing though, it’s great to see and experience.
HW-What was your most memorable moment at development camp?
Mac-The reaction from the media on how I played, and having Trevor Timmins say I looked like I’d been there many times. I had a good time there and it showed in my play, I was happy people noticed my efforts on the ice.
HW-Who did you become the closest with at camp?
Mac-Guys like Greg Pateryn, Scott Kishel, Louis Leblanc, Michael Cichy and Max Pacioretty. Most of the guys that went through the college system or are going to go through it.
HW-Who from the Habs organization are you most looking forward to playing with?
Mac-Mathieu Schneider. I know he isn’t signed, but he says he wants to play until he is 45 and it would be amazing to play with him. Even if it was just for one season or something. My dad coached him back in the day and he remains a good family friend today so it would mean alot to me to get that opportunity.
HW-What in your opinion is the best thing you can bring to table for this organization?
Mac-I’d say on the ice I’m a defenseman that can break out the puck with passes or skate it out of the zone. I have poise and patience on the point for the PP, so I’d like to get an opportunity at some point there as well. In the locker room I’m a high energy kinda guy who is always talking to my teammates and trying to be positive.
HW-What do you consider to be your best hockey attribute?
Mac-Skating for sure… I’m not the biggest guy out there but I can use my speed and agility to get out of trouble. I’ve really worked on being a good, fast, fluid skater to this point and it can be my best weapon when I use it in the right situations. Sure I have stuff to work on, all young players do, but I’m not afraid of learning and getting better in anyway that I can.
HW- What area do you feel needs the most work?
Mac-Better defensive coverage. In high school I could get away with rushing more because I have the speed to catch up and cover up defensively, but I need to pay more attention to that for the future. I expect to learn a lot in the coming seasons, I’ll be jumping from 15 games to 60 games plus the playoffs, and the best way to learn is playing the game.
HW-Will it be a huge jump for you to go from 15+ games to 60+ games?
Mac-Conditioning wise, I think I’m there now. I can’t wait for it actually. The only way to get better and become consistent is to play, and I’d rather be playing as much as I can rather then a 15+ game season.
HW-What did Trevor Timmins tell you to work on for next season?
Mac-He said I had to get better in the defensive coverage aspect of my game, but he also said that everyone else does at a young age too, and that I’m on the right learning curve.
HW-How was your draft interview with the Canadiens?
Mac-The draft interview was kinda scary really. After each answer there was no emotion from anyone in the room. They played it very straight, so I thought there was a very small chance they would take me in the draft.
HW-Any weird questions from the draft interviews?
Mac-(Laughs) Well, Montreal was very straight forward, but the Islanders asked “if you could be any bird, which one would it be?” I said a Parakeet cause I like to chirp on the ice and in the dressing room. I had never heard a question like that one before.
HW-Who did you room with there, how was that experience?
Mac-Max Pacioretty was my roommate and was really helpful with his insight and advice… he took the same path I am and gave me alot of guidance for the future and what to expect.
HW-Describe the feeling after being drafted, who did you meet and talk with when you first went on the draft floor?
Mac-The first person I met was the escort and she says, “Boy are you in trouble. All the interviews you are going to have to do, being drafted by Montreal, in
Montreal.” I went to the table and met everyone but it was kind of a blurr, there is so much happening so fast. I would rather have been drafted in the 5th, 6th, or 7th rounds to the Canadiens, then to another team earlier in the draft. I couldn’t have picked a better team or organization to join.
HW-Do you have a timetable in mind for when you’d like to turn pro?
Mac-I’d like to turn pro 2 or 3 years down the road, but that’s a best guess. When they think I’m ready, I’m going, and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I’m ready as soon as possible. If it takes 1- 2 years or 4 years, whenever I can, I’m going to play pro.
HW-Your grandfather Harvey played goal for the Bruins, and became the victim of Maurice Richard’s legendary 50th goal in 50 games. Did he ever talk about that moment?
Mac- “No comment.” I mean, he talked about it for sure, but let’s leave it at that. (Laughing)
HW-Is there some “family competition” to be the greatest NHL’er of all time (within the family)?
Mac-I don’t think there is. My uncles are aware that it’s a lot harder to make it now then back then and they fully support me. I still push the possibility of winning a Stanley Cup at them once in a while (since none of my relatives won a Cup) but nothing to harsh. It’s all in good fun, they are really supportive and I couldn’t ask for more.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Mac-I like to surf and play golf. We live 2 min walk from the beach so I get out when I can.
What is your favourite Music group?
Mac-Anything but rap really….. I can listen to anything but I can’t listen to rap
What is your favourite movie?
Mac-The Hangover… I laughed the entire time… what a great movie!
What is your favourite food?
Mac-My comfort food is steak and cheese sandwich. They are terrible for me and I should cut back on them, but I love them so much.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Mac-I have a really long fuse, but one thing that drives me nuts, after a tough loss and someone stats laughing in the room, or making jokes. I snap, I can’t have a good time after a loss like that until I leave the rink at least.
What do your teammates tease you about the most?
Mac-Probably being the straight edge kid that keeps it clean and stays out of trouble.
Do you have a nickname?
Mac-Well Mac is my nickname because my first name is actually McKinley. So Mac, or Benny. I guess, I don’t really have one yet.
What was your first hockey related Christmas present?
Mac-I don’t remember it but my uncle tells me when I was born everyone was talking about what I would become. My uncle had no doubt and said “he’s gonna be a hockey player! “. After that I think I was given a tiny pair of skates at christmas and the rest is history.
Are you superstitious, or do you have any pregame rituals?
Mac-I am superstitious but only for a short period of time. If I do something that works then I do it until it doesn’t work…then switch it up again.
Who is your best friend in hockey?
Mac-Derrick DeBlois. He got passed over in the draft this year, but he is going to go to Michigan with me soon and maybe he will get drafted next year. I have played with him since I can remember.
If you didn’t play hockey, what would be your dream job?
Mac-Film or music producing, or maybe even directing. Something where I’m not behind a desk.
Who was your favourite NHL team growing up?
Mac-Being from the area, the Bruins. But that is changing fast!
After talking to Mac for this interview, I have to admit, I came away very impressed. His strong character, attitude, and desire to be the best that he can be, leave no doubt in my mind he will make the NHL in the future. The Bennett hockey family has seen 3 members play in the NHL thus far, but Mac’s skills and ability could make him the best the NHL has seen yet.