When you get the chance to interview a prominent sports figure who covers your favorite hockey team and is someone you respect, you do it. When you have the chance to interview a prominent sports figure who once worked for a Triple-A baseball team and twice filled in as an emergency mascot (RIP, Lenny The Lynx), you jump at it without hesitation.
Of course, the former two-time mascot I’m referring to is none other than Ian Mendes of Rogers Sportsnet. Mendes was good enough to sit down with Stayclassy.net and answer a few questions about the Ottawa Senators and their upcoming season. In all seriousness, a big thanks to Ian for taking the time to do this. Ian does a great job of covering the Senators and has some great blogs over at Sportsnet.ca. We’re fans of his work and you should be too.
Stayclassy.net: Having a chance to cover the Ottawa Senators for as long as you have, do you have a favorite player to interview in the locker room?
Ian Mendes: That’s a tough one to answer. Daniel Alfredsson has always been terrific to the media in Ottawa win or lose and I will always give him a lot of credit for that. Jason Spezza might be my favorite guy to interview because he’s a very easy-going, happy-go-lucky guy and that comes through in a lot of his interviews. And Nick Foligno has tremendous upside (from a media perspective!)
SC: How do you feel about the goaltending duo of Pascal Leclaire and Brian Elliot in Ottawa? Is this the strongest tandem the Senators have ever had?
Mendes: That’s a good question. This might be the most stable tandem they’ve had in years. The Emery/Hasek duo was clearly the most talented, but it was only for one year and both of them were not the best illustration of the word “stable”. I think Leclaire has the potential to be a top 10 netminder in this league if he’s healthy. Brian Elliott was thrown into an unfair situation last year, but he showed tremendous promise. This combo has the potential to give Ottawa solid goaltending every night. And when was the last time we could say that??
SC: Have you ever read punctuation incorrectly from a teleprompter in your career?
Mendes: I see this clearly has some Anchorman connection, but I can say that I’ve never had this happen to me for one reason: I don’t use a teleprompter. (But if I did, it would definitely happen!)
SC: Last season the talk was about the lack of mobility in the defense. This season that appears to be remedied. How do you feel about the defense on this team now, and have they taken away too much size in favor of mobility?
Mendes: This is the biggest potential weakness on this team. The forwards have been greatly improved and so too has the goaltending. But the blueline remains thin – but for a different reason than last year. They’ve greatly improved mobility with acquisition of Campoli, emergence of Lee and potential of Karlsson. But what happens when someone needs to be cleared from in front of the net? That’s the million dollar question with this team. Phillips and Volchenkov are the only real physical-type defenseman and they are paired together. That being said, I think Bryan Murray is aware of this potential shortcoming. If this team does make a trade this season, it will be for a big, physical defenseman. But I think it’s easier to add size to your blueline than skill. Look how easy it was for Toronto to add Excelby/Beauchemin/Komisarek in a short period of time. Murray just might need to add one of those types of guys in the next five months.
SC: When you’re standing in between the benches during game nights, what is your biggest fear?
Mendes: Obviously, it’s getting hit with a puck. The game moves at such an amazing speed, that you have to be extremely alert down there. One of the first games I did between the benches was in Pittsburgh and Brian McGrattan told me after the anthems to make sure I keep my head up. If a guy like McGrattan is telling me that, I know there is a reason for concern.
Again, a huge thanks to Ian for taking the time out of his schedule to talk with us. Look for him on Rogers Sportsnet and Molson Senators Overtime!
Stay classy, Ian Mendes.