More than anything I wrote in my recent post about Shawn Germain, who is returning to the Reign defense in 2009-10, I’ll remember him as a gym rat. Specifically, he was the only player who I saw take advantage of the team-issued pass to a Rancho Cucamonga gym during the season, and he would be there at least twice a week on average. It was the surest sign of his intensity and work ethic off the ice, and it set quite an example for the team’s rookies.
So it came as no surprise today to learn that Germain has spent his off-season working at an Edmonton conditioning camp with hockey players from various pro and amateur levels, from the Western Hockey League on up to the NHL. Our conversation on that topic went so well that I’m going to save it for a future story. In the meantime, here’s what Germain had to say about coming back to the Reign…
How does it feel to be coming back to the Reign?
I was super excited to be part of that first year, the expansion year. It was something pretty special. When you step into something like that, you want to see it flourish a little more. We accomplished a lot, but there’s a lot we left on the table. I’m just looking forward to coming back and making a run at that Kelly Cup we wanted last year and didn’t get.
Were there any other options for you this season?
Guys always have options, but right from the next day after I walked in, I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind or (coach Karl Taylor’s) mind what I would do for this year. Me and Karl have a pretty awesome relationship. We’ve been together a long time, can read each other pretty well. There was no doubt in my mind where I wanted to go.
What can the team improve on, and how can you help?
I think we definitely need to score more goals 5-on-5. That’s something we strugleed with last year, something we’re looking at addressing. For myself, just contribute a little more on the offensive side like I did in the playoffs. Just keep playing my game, being that guy the young guys can look up to and take examples from — that sums up my job.
How much do you make of the fact that you had the lowest plus/minus (-25) on the team?
The two years before (with the Reading Royals), I had the top plus-minus on the team both years and was defensive player of the year. I feel like I played better last year. If you’re not scoring goals 5-on-5, no one’s going to be plus-very much if anything. It’s a weird stat. It’s probably a reflection of the amount I played, and the lack of 5-on-5 goals. I feel I played just as well in years previous, if not better. We finished first in our division. The respect in the room is more important in the room than a stat. By no means did I lose any sleep over that.
Is there anything you can do better this season?
I think just if I can contribute in an offensive way a little more like I did in the playoffs, that would help the team more. Other than that, just sticking to what I’ve been doing. My D-zone play was solid. It’s keeping the room together. Our leaders did a pretty good job of that; I thought we had a really tight-knit group. Leadership, D-zone play, penalty kill — I thought those all were pretty solid last year.
What do you think about the team Karl’s putting together?
From what I’ve seen and heard, we got a few forwards and quite a bit of our D-core coming back, which is awesome. I thought we did a pretty good job last year. We’re only going to get better, I believe. I have no idea about goaltending. Jeff zatkoff played phenomenal for us all year long. He deserved a lot of credit for what we did last year. We’ve just got to keep building on what we started. The end result wasn’t what we wanted. The only thing we wanted was win the Kelly Cup.