Former AHL Defenseman of the Year and Calder Cup champion Andrew Hutchinson of the Texas Stars stepped into the AHL Chat Room to answer fans’ questions on Thursday, May 6. Andrew’s transcript is below!
How pleased are you with the success that the Stars have had this season, and in what areas do you feel the organization still has room for growth? – Wayne from Austin
I think everyone has been pleasantly surprised with the support we have received in our inaugural season. As far as the organization moving forward, I believe the team can be more involved in the community off the ice, growing the game in the area and expanding our fan base.
When you were first breaking into professional hockey, did you try and model your game after anyone that you enjoyed to watch growing up, and if so, why? – Bill from Peoria, Ill.
I don’t know if I tried to model my game after one specific person. I really enjoyed watching the Red Wings while growing up in the Detroit area. I has always been a fan of Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman. Lidstrom is one of the best D of his era and Steve Yzerman was one of my favorites. I really enjoyed watching them as a kid.
Have you been able to use your prior championship experience this spring to act as a sort of teacher to some of the younger guys on your team – Jared from Oxford, Mass.
I really don’t consider myself a teacher to the younger guys on this team. I try to add my two cents when I feel it can help. More or less, I just want to lead by example. We have a great group of veterans here in Texas, so I don’t think it falls on just one guy. We collectively lead as a group.
Describe what it was like being a part of a Calder Cup winning team with Milwaukee in 2004 and then two years later, being part of a Stanley Cup winning team in Carolina? – Tim from Raleigh, N.C.
They were both amazing experiences. Anytime you win a championship at any level, it is a special moment that you remember for the rest of your life. I made life-long friends in both places. I feel very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.
Has playing on a strong defensive team like Texas made this season any extra enjoyable for you? – George from Austin
Our system has proved to be successful and help us win games this season. It makes coming to the rink fun every day when you are winning games regardless of what style you play.
Has the team had to make any adjustments as this series against Chicago has progressed? – Luke from Austin
You make minor adjustments as the series moves forward. We’ve had a lot of success with our system and we don’t feel we need to make any changes. Ofcourse, that can always change as the series progresses.
As a fan, watching playoff overtime is about as tense as it gets… Describe what it’s like for players out on the ice in overtime. – Kevin from Boston, Mass.
Playoff hockey is intense to begin with and the added element of overtime hockey adds a lot more pressure to every shift. It’s actually easier being on the ice than on the bench. Watching is even harder. Everybody knows one goal can change a series and in overtime you never know when that one goal will come.
What typically goes on in the locker room in the intermission before overtime in a playoff game, or between overtimes if the game keeps going? Is there much strategizing or is it more an opportunity to get some rest? – Julie from Austin
Everyone usually has a standard routine during their intermission break. It doesn’t matter if it is overtime or just a regular intermission, it’s all the same. I personally spend the time resting and trying to get hydrated. Coach may come in and talk a bit, but not always to strategize.
What was your greatest obstacle going into your professional career, and how did you get by and be successful – Daniel from Pictou County, Nova Scotia
My greatest obstacle is the same as what everyone else has to deal with on their path to the NHL. There are only so many roster spots and we all have to work our way into a position for a regular job in the National Hockey League. There are a lot of very good players from all over the world playing in the NHL and roster space is limited.
You grew up, went to school, and started your pro career in the Midwest, but since then you’ve lived in several different parts of the country. What has it been like moving around so much? – Blake from Pflugerville, Tex.
I have enjoyed everywhere that I have lived. I consider myself fortunate to have played in some great cities. I’ve made good friends in all the cities that I have lived in. I have particularly enjoyed my last year and a half in Texas, between Dallas and Austin. My family has adjusted well to all the moves and really become fond of the greater Austin area and Cedar Park.
Within a team, are certain kinds of “demographic rivalries” common among players? For instance, Eastern Canadian vs. Western Canadian, Canadian vs. American, North American vs. European, veterans vs. rookies? – Pflugerville, Tex.
Everyone is proud of where they are from and we have players from all over North America, Finland and Russia. There may be small verbal jabs that go back in forth for fun, but when it comes down to it we all play for the same team. On the ice, we all look after each other and play for one another.
What kind of a presence has Jamie Benn brought to your lineup since he came down for the Calder Cup Playoffs after spending the entire regular season in Dallas?
He is a highly skilled player that is coming off a great rookie season in Dallas. Jamie brings confidence into our locker room and the ability to make some great plays. He has fit in really well and he only makes the players around him better.
What are some of the things you like to do in the offseason? – Jim from Chicago
I am an avid golfer and love to hit the links during the off-season. During the season our schedules are so hectic and I try to spend a lot of time with my family in the summer months. I also enjoy traveling and visiting friends. Most importantly, I rest up and start training for the following season.