Joining us the second time for an interview on our blog is the Nashville Predators defensamen Hal Gill, now an NHL veteran of five teams and 10+ years in the league. We talk with Hal about playing in Nashville vs. the more pressure packed cities he’s played in, what he might do after his hockey career is over and what series/games he’d like to have back. This interview was conducted on Saturday, one day before the lockout ended. Here we go…..
This will be the only lockout question: It’s safe to say the lockout sucks on many levels, but let’s try to spin it positive. Besides the obvious answer of getting to spend the extra valuable time with your kids and family, what other positives have you been able to wrestle out of this lockout?
I guess I get some rest. Maybe I can add another season to my career. Really not much good comes from any of this CBA foolishness.
You’ve now run the gamut of pressure cookers, or lack thereof. Not belittling Nashville in any way, but playing in Boston, Toronto and Montreal – and then playing in Nashville – that has got to be completely different experience. Does the scrutiny or attention you get as a player in Montreal, for example, help your game and do you wonder and/or worry about how you may respond to just PLAYING without all the other stuff buzzing around?
When you are in a big market, there is a lot of noise so you can easily ignore it. In a smaller market it is quiet a lot, so when there is an event, then things get loud real quick. In the end, it’s all the same when you get out on the ice.
In our last interview, we asked about your most memorable goal and your response was that you couldn’t really think of one and that most of your good memories are of blocked shots. So now you know the next question – is there really one particular blocked shot you can cite? Or is it just the general collective pride of doing so?
The best feeling is making a difference in a win. If I have a nice bruise from a blocked shot that won a game, then that’s like a goal for me. I guess it’s a badge of honor.
There are endless websites and discussion forums chock full of youth and high school players who are OBSESSED about the technical features and the ins-and-outs of hockey equipment. Equipment doesn’t make the player, I think that’s obvious. With that said, who would you say is a teammate you’ve had who was the most “into” their gear?
I played with Michael Cammalleri. He is very in tune with his gear – especially his skates and sticks. I am comfortable with most gear. Consistency is my biggest worry. I want each stick to be the same.
You are now 37. Congratulations! You’ve played a lot of games in the NHL – can you put into words somehow what it feels like as a 37 year old compared to, say, a 25 year old? Does the 37 year old Gill still feel the WOW factor when you step onto the ice in front of 15,000+, for example? Or is it something different now?
I still get the butterflies (man i miss those), but now my full attention is on winning. When I was 25, there were more thoughts on ice time, contract and things of that nature. I wish I knew then that it ALL comes together when you win.
You played through the playoffs this past season with a fractured tibia that had to be “frozen” before each game. Can you explain that process? Are you simply dipping that thing into a tub of ice for a while? Or is it more medical than that? That seems insane. Admirably insane, that is.
Thank you but I think when you get “needled” to go out and play, it’s something that most players have done just the same, so it isn’t that big of a deal. What is a big deal is the way you play. When you can elevate your game while injured, then that is remarkable.
As a New Englander, you grew up a Bruins fan. Are you still? The vibe we get from a lot of NHL players we talk to is that as the years go by, you find yourself becoming a fan of the team for which your closest friends play for as opposed to a particular team.
Not really. I still haven’t gotten over my Hab days where they (Boston) beat us in 7. I’d give anything to get that one back.
Finally, do you think about post-career stuff yet? Do you want to stay in hockey somehow? Twitter for a few years and relax? Start a brewery?
Haha, that all sounds good! I would love to get involved in coaching on some level and I will always support breweries – maybe not start one though!
Big thanks to Hal Gill for the time – and we are glad we were able to catch him before camp started.