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Old 10-09-2007, 07:41 PM   #82
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Default Paul Stastny Q and A

Q. Itís always hard to predict how a young player coming out of U.S. college makes the adjustment to the NHL. Some take a long time and some take a very short period of time. Can you pinpoint why there doesnít seem to have been the steep learning curve that some young players have had, why it seems to have gone so relatively smoothly for you?

PAUL STASTNY: I donít know if it was quick. But I was in college for two years. And so when I came up, I was already 20, 21. Pretty mature for my age, and it was easier for me, maybe because I was a little smarter. Some of the things you canít teach I got from my dad. Playing with better players I think makes it a lot easier for me, just knowing that you can give and go. They think the way I do and it makes it that much easier.

Q. Last year, during the spring, the Niedermayer brothers talked about how much they enjoyed playing together and winning the Stanley Cup together, and both your father and uncles had a chance to play with each other. Do you speak to your brother about that in your hockey playing lives, to play together and have a chance to win a Stanley Cup together?

PAUL STASTNY: We talked about that growing up. I think weíre both trying to battle for jobs in the NHL and hopefully one day if weíre both fortunate our paths might cross. I think the two happiest people would be our parents besides me and my brother. But thatís the only thing weíve talked about. Canít really predict or look forward to that because you never know if itís going to happen.

Q. Youíre playing for basically the same franchise that your father played for. Do you have any memories of Quebec and when you were growing up?

PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, not too much. Not hockey specifically. I remember growing up, the cold winters and playing on the ponds right across the street from where we lived, going to the rink, just me and my brother. Obviously it was fond memories. Then when I went back there for the Quebec Peewee tournament, it really showed up. My dad was there.

Q. Do you remember how old you were when you started to realize what hockey legends your dad and uncles were, any stories that stick out? And can you describe growing up in St. Louis with your brother and how competitive you were with each other?

PAUL STASTNY: As I got older, I think just from hearing from other people, obviously my dad and uncle are two humble guys. Just from hearing from other people how respected of a player my dad and uncles were, how good of players they were.

As you get older you start reading stuff and seeing more highlights. I was probably 15, 16, right around there, when hockey started getting serious. Growing up in St. Louis, I think itís changed from the moment ? from day one from when Iíve been there the last 12, 13 years hockey has been growing big. Me and my brother have been best friends and working out and doing everything side by side for the last seven, eight summers. One big reason Iím here is we compete against each other and weíre always trying to do what we can to help each other out.

Q. I think thereís a sense around the league that last few guys have scored a lot of goals, but this year you might be more dynamic. Is there a sense around the team that youíre the sort of team that is capable where no lead will be safe, that you have the ability to get four goals a game?

PAUL STASTNY: I think weíre just ? we canít think like that, because when we do thatís when we end up getting in trouble, weíre playing the high and taking too many chances. Weíre focused on playing defense. And like you said, with the players weíve added offensively, we know we can score. If weíre playing a tight game or open up game, I think weíre comfortable playing both ways.

Q. How has the attitude in the dressing room changed from last year to this year? Is there a sense that this team has all the tools necessary to make a real serious run at the Cup?

PAUL STASTNY: I donít know. I think itís a lot similar to the way it ended last year with the run we went on. And itís a loose atmosphere. And obviously itís well ran by the coaches down to our captains leading the way.

Obviously weíre having fun out there, and weíre working hard. But I think when it comes game?wise weíre just trying to focus one game at a time instead of looking forward to halfway down the year or next couple of games. I think weíre taking it one at a time. We put ourselves in a better position once the season rolls around.

Q. Playing in the WCHA, what did that do to prepare you for the National Hockey League and playing now with the Avalanche?

PAUL STASTNY: I think WCHA was really good for me, big stepping stone to where I am now. Just obviously it shows ? obviously when I was there it was top?end competition all around, from the first place team to the 10th place team. Itís starting to show more and more now with more guys leaving school early. And I think itís getting the respect that maybe it finally deserves.

Q. On that team youíve got a future Hall of Famer in Joe Sakic, can you talk about what kind of a mentor heís been to you, if in any way he has been?

PAUL STASTNY: Yeah, I think heís been good. Heís a quiet guy. I think once you get to know him he opens up. If I ever needed little questions, small questions answered, heís always there to help me.

Obviously heís making sure Iím having fun out there, always saying little jokes about my old man when they played together. But I think itís more of you just watch the way he presents himself the way he is on and off the ice and you learn more from that than just asking him questions.

Q. You were born in Quebec, raised in St. Louis. There was a story that was making the rounds in the spring that because you hadnít plate internationally for either Canada or U.S. you were sort of an international free agent, and then ultimately opted to play for the U.S. So I guess my question is, one, was that true that you had a choice? And, two, if so, why did you decide to play for the Americans?

PAUL STASTNY: I could play either one so I didnít play many IHF competitions. But I think I had maybe a better opportunity or I think the U.S. wanted me and maybe looking to the future, my brother already played for the U.S. So like you said itís always a dream of ours to play together and maybe one day weíll play together in an international event like that. But obviously they gave me an opportunity and you can never turn that down.

Q. Can you talk about how intense it was as you approached the streak last year, the record?

PAUL STASTNY: (Chuckling) it wasnít too bad until I got to 13, 14 games. And then I didnít even think about it then I started hearing about it all the time.

I think it wasnít something I was worried about, just because we kept winning it made it that much easier. Obviously when your team is winning and youíre having fun, I think everything was rolling smoothly there. Obviously no one on my team or in this organization gave me added pressure. So I think it was something that was maybe a little easier said than it actually appeared.

Q. Obviously you had all summer to think about how your sophomore season would get kicked off. Itís been a great start for you. Can you talk about how good it feels to pick up where you left off?

PAUL STASTNY: Itís always good to know you get a good start to the season. Always in the past Iíve been a slow starter, but obviously you adapt and you learn ? I learned a lot last year, and I train a lot harder this summer thinking this year would be a lot harder than last year. Not everyone knows you. You canít get away with little things anymore. I think I prepared myself pretty well this summer.
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