Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Quick Hits with Luke Gazdic: Figure Skating and the Declining Role of 'Enforcers'

Luke Gazdic (Credit: Josh Rasmussen/Texas Stars)
Luke Gazdic, one of only a few remaining original Texas Stars, signed a one-year two-way contract for the coming season yesterday. I caught him for a quick chat earlier today.

On getting his contract done and expectations for next year:
"After the season, I talked with Jim Nill and Les Jackson. They expressed interest in having me come back, and that was a positive coming home. A couple of weeks ago, they wanted to get a contract done and once they said that I knew it was all about the numbers game. It came down to the last minute, but I'm glad we got it done.

Jim Nill and I talked after the season, and he liked what he saw in the last bit of the season and the playoffs. He knows what kind of game I bring to the table. The expectation now is that I'm going to be fighting for a job in the NHL just like the 50-something other kids. I'm expecting to go in and fight for a roster spot in Dallas."
On what role he expects to play to make the roster in Dallas:
"My first year and a bit I was fighting a ton. As a result, I was injured a lot. The game changed, and it's constantly changing. I got advice from coaches and management that if I wanted to play at the next level, I knew I had to work on my defensive game and skating. I can't be a one-dimensional tough guy and just go out there to fight.

As you can see in the game now, these types of players are being eliminated slowly. Even as recently as 5 or 6 years ago, those guys are getting phased out because they can't handle the speed and the quickness the game has developed. I know now that along with keeping my toughness up, I have to work on making my game a little more well-rounded."
On how he is working to improve this summer:
"A lot of power skating. A lot of trendy stuff right now is working with figure skaters, and I have a figure skater I'm working with. She breaks down your stride and tries to make it the most efficient possible. I'm trying to maximize the efficiency of my stride and use my full power to get the most out of it. My stride is too short and choppy, so I'm trying to lengthen it."

"I told her I want to be able to do a triple axle by the end of the summer. (laughing) I don't know if my 240 pound body can even make it once around!"

"Other than that, I'm skating to get skill stuff in. I'm keeping my boxing up to keep that part of my game up."
On the momentum from last year's Texas squad coming into the next season:
"It's nice to have Willie and Doug coming back and having a lot of the core chunk of guys back from the team last year. It was a strange year start to finish with the lockout and the deadline. It was like we played for three different teams. It'll be nice to have all the guys down there with the core staff. Also, guys that didn't have much playoff experience last year, including myself, now know what playoff hockey entails and how much different it is than the regular season."

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