About halfway through my conversation with Greg Hogeboom, I told him that this sounded a lot like the conversation I had with Andrew Martens, his Reign teammate last season who also signed in the Central Hockey League. Martens inked a player/assistant coach deal with the Wichita Thunder, and Hogeboom signed a player/assistant coach deal with the Texas Brahmas.
Hogeboom’s motivation was slightly different — at least, he said he didn’t sign up for the same reasons that Martens did …
Why did you sign with Texas?
I talked to the coach there (Dan Wildfong) a couple weeks after the season. He offered me a player/assistant coaching job. I kind of just, mainly, made a money decision. I could get paid year-round, get paid a little bit more with that. I got a few offers from European clubs, but me and my wife decided to stick it out here for one more year, enjoy a different change of scenery.
Are you interested in coaching once your playing career is over?
No, probably not. I’m happy to get a little more involved with the team this year, helping out in certain aspects of the game. Coaching at a professional level, definitely not. But hopefully I can take some things from this and my experience this year and be able to coach some younger kids in Toronto, or coach my own kids [Hogeboom and his wife don’t have any children yet].
Did you receive any competing offers in North America?
No. I don’t have an agent or anything. I got qualified from Ontario, but I didn’t actually talk to anyone from Ontario since the end of the season. I got the qualifying offer in the mail, but I never signed that. I talked to Texas and not really any other teams. Texas seemed like a good fit. We worked out a good deal.
Are you concerned that your chances of gaining an AHL promotion are reduced?
I’m an older guy (27), so who knows. I guess you could argue both ways. Not too many guys [three, or four if you include Patrick Mullen] on our team last year got promoted. You can toss the idea around that it’s going to work. I’d love to get called up, don’t get me wrong – but I don’t foresee the opportunity to get called up like a younger guy would. Me and my wife are happy to go and experience Texas. If I got a call up, I’d be welcome to it obviously.
What is your long-term plan?
I don’t really know for sure. I was tossing the idea around of Europe, then staying here, or actually retiring, joining the family business. I’m not quite sure what next year holds. As a minor league hockey player you can only take it year by year.
Did you know the Brahmas’ head coach previously?
No, I had a lot of conversation with him. Geoff Walker played with him the year before he came Ontario. He filled me in a little bit on the coach. I have a lot of friends who know him.
How difficult is it to be going to your sixth team in five seasons?
I don’t know. I guess I don’t really mind it that much. Each one has given me different experiences. Others might look at that as difficult. I kind of like it. It’s nice to live in a different place and experience the culture. Hockey-wise, I didn’t have the best year last year, but I still had a great time.
What did you like about Ontario?
It was great. It’s going to be a big change going to Texas, a really small rink. The worst thing about Texas is probably the best thing about Ontario – the size of the fan base, the intensity and love for the Ontario Reign. About 2,500 fans per game, that’s all the rink will hold. I’ve played before 1,000 fans and 1,100 fans [in Thurgau, Switzerland]. I didn’t mind it too much.
I liked the guys. I think you’ll see quitte a different team than you did last year. A lot of guys are moving on and the team is getting younger. I definitely can’t complain — Ontario was great. Great weather. We just didn’t win enough.
Why were you disappointed in your year hockey-wise?
Coming off the year before in the off-season I had hernia surgery. I wasn’t where I wanted to be last year. I’m hoping that can change next year. Hopefully for me personally, I continue to develop.
[The hernia] never really bothered me, but I just didn’t feel like i had the same jump, quickness and speed I had in the past. Every second counts quite a bit in hockey. It slowly came back in the season and I hope I get a little faster this season.