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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

David Fischer.

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

them win.

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.

Good Luck!