Tonight will be the 2016 AHL All-Star Classic featuring a brand new format. If it is anywhere near as entertaining as the NHL’s updated take on the All-Star game we should all be in for a real treat.
When we last left off on Fifteen we had the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals Dean Evason on-board. He’ll be coaching the Central Division All-Stars tonight. What better way to follow that interview, and setup tonight’s AHL All-Star Classic, than having the Admirals representative on the ice Frédérick Gaudreau be featured today?
I think Gaudreau’s story has been pretty well documented this season. Even the causal readers from Nashville had to take some stock in his play because he performed so well he earned a two-year entry level contract from the Nashville Predators. It really wasn’t long after that when he found out he would be going to the AHL All-Star Classic, either. This season has been a whirlwind for the 22-year old from Granby, Quebec. But it has all been positive and it has all been earned.
Before plunging into the interview with Gaudreau I feel like telling a very short story. After this season’s Admirals pre-season game at the MSOE Kern Center was finished up I was hanging around outside the locker room waiting to do my typical interviews. At that early in the season I was desperately trying to just figure out faces. As I was waiting and waiting I heard someone say my name. It was Gaudreau. He approached me, shook my hand, told me how great it was to see me again, and jogged on off to do cooldown work outs. After that happened I did a quick scan back through last season and I found that I had only talked to him one time during the 2014-15 season. He just saw a familiar face and wanted to give a hello.
The only thing better than Gaudreau the player this season is Gaudreau the person. The catch there is he’s been the same humble guy for quite some time now. That’s what made seeing a person like him earning an NHL contract so great for everyone around the Milwaukee Admirals to see.
Gaudreau has asked me after this interview if I’d be posting the audio of our chat up because he was nervous about his English. I told him the truth which was that he did fine. Better than me, actually, because I ended up basically substituting a question that kind of related to just that topic. So, when listening in, I’d like to throw the friendly reminder out there of the language barrier being a real thing and English is a language that even I still struggle at putting forward. That all said: Sit back. Enjoy. And let’s all get to know some more about tonight’s Admirals All-Star.
Admirals Roundtable: What were your inspirations to play hockey?
Frédérick Gaudreau: I think I grew up in a family that they just wanted me to be happy doing what I like. And, honestly, hockey is what I always liked to do. My brothers also played. My parents both played. So, basically I grew up in a hockey family. That’s where it came from I think.
AR: When did you realize you were going to be playing hockey for a career?
Gaudreau: It was always a dream but you only realize it when you start doing it. So, I would say last year. (AR: So, it didn’t even sink in until your first pro contract?) It was something that I always wanted to do and, for sure, I believed in it but I mean… I feel like you only realize it when you start doing it for real.
AR: Who was the first famous player that you met?
AR: What is your greatest hockey moment?
Gaudreau: I’d say when I won the Memorial Cup with the Shawinigan Cataractes in 2012. That was an unbelievable feeling. He hosted the Cup, lost in the Playoffs, but went there as the host team and finally won the Cup. So it was pretty fun.
AR: What’s the most memorable goal that you’ve scored?
Gaudreau: I don’t remember that. Maybe a goal in the playoffs in Drummondville last season in juniors. I scored five in that night. [Editor’s Note: It happened on 3/28/14 and he did it against Jonathan Diaby‘s poor Victoriaville Tigres no less. One better? Of Gaudreau’s five goals one was scored against Brandon Whitney – current goaltender of the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL playing under contract to the Admirals.] So, probably the last one. (AR: Five?!) Yeah, it was a good night.
AR: What is the strangest game that you’ve played in?
Gaudreau: Whoa, that’s a good question. [pause] I don’t know that. I’ve played so many games.. so many strange games.. there’s not one.. maybe one I’d say, I think it ended up 11-10 or something like that. (AR: Did the goalies not show up?) I don’t know. It was just a crazy game.. crazy night.
AR: What is your most painful hockey moment?
Gaudreau: When I broke my wrist. When I broke my wrist in Midget AAA I’d say physically painful but I’d say when we lost in the playoffs the year we won the Memorial Cup, when we lost in the playoffs, that was pretty painful mentally for sure.
AR: What are your favorite uniforms in hockey?
Gaudreau: That I played in? (AR: Yeah, or in general because I get a lot of responses. I keep throwing this back to people as an example. Max Görtz‘s favorite uniform I had to chase down. It was his boyhood team growing up – his hometown team. I was like, Frosta HC? Who are they? So any team, really.) I don’t know. I like any kind of vintage jersey that the NHL use. So, all the Winter Classics – the ones that Montreal used this season for their game against Boston. Boston’s was nice too. I like all the vintage jerseys. (AR: I don’t know if you had the chance to see it yet but you’re going to be wearing an awesome retro jersey for the All-Stars.) Yeah, I saw that. (AR: They look amazing.) I think so, too! They are really nice.
AR: Who is the funniest player that you’ve met?
Gaudreau: I’ve met a few but I’d say Vladislav Kamenev is pretty funny. (AR: Kamenev?) Yeah. (AR: Is there something that I don’t know because I keep being told that his English is a work in progress?) It’s not because he always talks it’s just the way he is. He’s just a great guy and we keep having fun with him. So, he’s a really nice guy. (AR: I saw a bit of his personality come through. I think it was on Media Day back during pre-season. He was playing table tennis against Garrett Noonan – and he was destroying Garrett Noonan. He was just having a laugh. He seems like a really nice guy.) Yeah, he is a really nice guy. Just the way he is we think he’s always funny.
AR: By the way, how is Kamenev’s English coming along?
Gaudreau: I think he’s getting really good. For sure it was hard for him I think because he didn’t know nothing about English. I think it would be hard for anybody but I think he’s really getting better. Starting to talk a lot more. And, for sure, understands a lot more too. (AR: That’s something I’m always cautious to do. I saw it with Miikka Salomäki when he was first here -English very difficult- [Marek Mazanec] when he was first here -English incredibly difficult- …playing out there is hard enough as it is much less being plopped into what’s like an alien world. I only speak one language and I had to go to college to learn it better.) Yeah exactly! (AR: You guys speak better English than me and you still speak like three different languages. All of you.) Ahh, well thank you but I think we still have to improve always. We can always improve. I got lucky enough that I grew up in Canada so our second language was English. We had to learn it a little bit in school and all that. But, for a guy like [Kamanev] that comes from Russia and the only thing [he’s] heard his entire life is Russian, I bet it’s really hard. I gave him a lot of credit for that because it’s something that’s always going to stay for his whole life. He could’ve learned a language like that. (AR: And there is no one else here who speaks Russian. I follow the Pittsburgh Penguins so I thought of him like an Evgeni Malkin in a sense where he doesn’t know the language coming here but at least Malkin had a Sergei Gonchar to help kind of usher him into the country. Kamenev really hasn’t had that.) No, exactly. He had it at the camp with [Yakov Trenin] but after that Trenin went back to Juniors so he was here, the only one speaking Russian, so he had to stick up with people all the time that would help him. So every time we were out for dinner or something like that – we had to explain to him a little more the menu and all that. As it went by he just kept going, kept working on his English, and for sure now he can go where ever he wants alone. (AR: For me, I took one-year of Spanish in high school followed up with two-years of French and I can only remember one thing of French. Which is: je ne sais pas.) [laughs] (AR: Which is very important because it’s true… because I don’t know.)
AR: What’s your favorite part of Milwaukee?
Gaudreau: I like the whole town. Never really had the chance to come here during summer. I heard it is really nice during summer. But, I don’t know, I feel like it’s kind of a big town.. not so big.. but even if it’s big we feel like it’s a small town because I feel like people are nice here. Hockey, they love it here. I like all of this city especially the people here.
AR: What is your favorite food?
Gaudreau: I love sushi. (AR: Sushi?) [nods agreeably off mic]
AR: What is your favorite non-hockey hobby?
Gaudreau: I don’t know. I don’t really have a hobby. I like to do all kinds of stuff. I just started to play guitar a bit last year. I’m not good at it but I enjoy it. So, it’s something I’d like to get better at for sure.
AR: What is your favorite non-hockey memory?
Gaudreau: I don’t know. Like I said, I enjoy so much simple dinner with my family. So every little dinner we have during summer, or whenever during season when I have the chance to, for me those moments I’m so grateful for those moments. There’s many of them that come to my mind so I’d say all of them.
AR: What do you see yourself doing after hockey?
Gaudreau: I haven’t figured it out exactly but it always depends on where you go at hockey. It’d be different if it be a long career. If it’d not be I don’t really know. I hope it be a long one and after that I could have more choices. But I don’t really know yet. My brother has a business doing some furniture. He has his own furniture company and I enjoyed doing it with him this summer. It’s pretty fun. So maybe I would like to go with him but so far I don’t know exactly. (AR: Well, so far even in the scope of like this season, Nashville ended up giving you your two-year entry level so that’s pretty impressive enough. So, it’s working out so far for ya this little hockey career.) Yeah, well for sure. I did it step by step for my entire career so far. That’s another step. For sure if I can keep reaching other steps to the top, which is establishing myself, that’s a big dream – just establishing yourself. I have a long career – that’s a big dream. If I can reach step by step to that goal for sure it’d be really nice. (AR: It wasn’t in that far a span either you get your contract from Nashville and then you get selected for an All-Star Game.) Yeah, that week was crazy. I just signed – which is something pretty nice – and then I think not even a week after I received that call to tell me I was going to the All-Star Game. So that was a crazy week.
A massive thank you to Milwaukee Admirals All-Star representative Frédérick Gaudreau for taking the time to do this interview. We’ll all be cheering him on tonight as he wears what I’m sure will become his favorite uniform of all-time. As for Fifteen, this week is Five Days of Fifteen so I will have one each weekday this week. As for the coming weeks – who do you want to have featured in Fifteen next? Please comment down below with your suggestions!