Mike Egener checked in this morning to share his thoughts on signing with the Florida Everblades for 2010-11. My questions, and his answers:
How instrumental was former Reign assistant Greg Poss in bringing you to Florida?
I definitely had some familiarty with him, being with us last year. I thought I learned a lot from him when he was there. A lot of it, for me, was that I want to get to the next level, the American League. I saw the best fit would be to be in Florida and in the Eastern Conference, where I have a lot more teams being able to look at me.
How are more teams able to look at you if you’re playing in Florida?
There are more (AHL) teams in the northeast. A lot more guys over the years, the number of guys being called up, are in the Northeast. There’s more exposure. I obviously didn’t get called up last year. I thought I had a really good year. I’d like to get back on the radar again.
How do you think your 2009-10 season went?
The first half of the year, I was happy with my season. Karl (Taylor) helped me out a lot with a lot of things, not just with points and stuff, but being able to handle situations on the ice, how to properly handle yourself mentally. Then when Greg came, I was able to explore more of my offensive side. I was fortunate to put up good numbers n the second. I definitely think we started using my shot more on things like the power play, that kind of stuff.
I knew I didn’t have any doubt I can play in the top league, in the NHL. I had been off the year before, I took time off because it just didn’t feel right at the time. Last year I got back into it. I just wanted to progress. Last year I wanted to have a year where I felt I was progressing well, make sure the game was fun. All that stuff happened. The season turned out the way I wanted it to. It ended upshaping out really well.
Did you receive any AHL offers this off-season?
No. I’m going to Oklahoma’s (the Oklahoma City Barons, an Edmonton Oilers affiliate) training camp. We’ll see what happens there.
You have always had a strong shot, but never really played the role of an offensive-minded defenseman?
Coming into this year, I hadn’t really experienced that side of hockey. At the beginning of the season, I just wanted to be steady in my own end. As the season went on, I got more comfortable. This was my first season playing power play. I became more comfortable on the power play. Your offensive instincts take over. Get one goal or assist and you’re on the scoresheet. You want that feeling more.
I’m happy Karl gave me the opportunity to be on there and develop my game in that sense. It was a successful year for me in that sense. I never played power play in junior at all, definitely not in pro, playing in the American League I was more focused on my defensive game, being solid defensively. I never gave myself an opportunity to try and excel at it. You have to be put in that position. I always had a hard shot. It helped being able to use it.
Have you ever played in Florida before?
No. I was in Tampa Bay’s training camp because I was drafted by the Lightning. It was either going back to Ontario or going back to Florida. It had nothing to do with the organization there, or Karl. It was familiarity with Greg and the opportunity to get to the next level.