Shawn Collymore was brought in to add speed up front and a veteran presence in the room. His season mirrored the rest of the team: Better late than early. Playing heavy minutes, including power-play and occasional penalty-kill situations, the 27-year-old finished with 17 goals (tied for third) and 38 points (tied for second).
After spending all of last season in Denmark, it looks like Collymore is going back to Europe for 2011-12. Here’s what he said Tuesday before leaving Citizens Business Bank Arena for possibly the last time:
How do you evaluate your season?
For me personally, it was just an OK average season. I felt like I got a little bit of a slow start for whatever reason. Actually, the whole team did. We were all in a slow start. I felt like I picked it up at some point during the year, probably around Christmastime. I started to play well, get confident, do the things I wanted to do out there. Unfortunately I had the (sprained ankle) injury at a bad time. I didn’t finish the season the way I wanted to. When I did come back, I just wanted to help out the guys make the playoff run. I wasn’t at my best by any means. I feel the last two games I started to feel good, which is good for me personally, knowing that I was going to be OK. But it was kind of a bummer that the last two games were when i felt probably the best, out of the 10 I played after I came back. It’s disappointing. For a lot of the guys it’s their first time not making the playoffs. I know I’m in that situation this year. I can’t remember not making the playoffs as far back as ever. I made them all through my junior years and all through my pro. It sucks after being with the guys after 6-plus months and traveling with them all around, that you have to leave so quick.
Why do you think you started slow?
It was possibly more of a team thing, but I was also coming back from Europe, just getting re-acclimatized to the North American style. Also just getting to know your linemates, things like that. Of course when you’re struggling, everyone’s searching for the right combination, this and that. Everyone’s looking for their spot where they fit in. That takes a little time to find.
How do you explain the success you guys had late in the season?
It’s hard to say why. One, there was a sense of urgency because we had to catch Victoria and time was running out. Two, especially on our last stretch, we were just playing for each other. Guys liked each other a lot. Even after we found out we were eliminated, that kind of kept us going because it’s more fun to have winning than losing even though we were eliminated. That brought out some of the best in guys, playing more relaxed.
Where do you see yourself next season?
I really don’t know. I’m trying to go to Europe. Hopefully I have an opportunity there. If ever I were to come back and play in the ECHL, this organization is a good one to play for. I’d definitely come back.
You wouldn’t be deterred by the fact that this team has missed the playoffs two straight years now?
Things happened. You have to look at stuff like that. Sometimes you go elsewhere and it would be even worse. I’m confident this team will push forward. All the other pieces are there, when you look to go with a team – the organization. In Europe, you look at (if) they are paying the players on time. Here that’s not an issue. I mean, things like that. This organization stacks up really well. I’m sure the winning will follow.
You’re turning 28 next month. How long is your injury history aside from the ankle?
I’ve had a ton of injuries. I felt pretty healthy (at the start of the season). I’ve had a lot of injuries, but they aren’t injuries that required surgery to be done or anything like that. They were all pretty easy to recover from. I’ve never had surgery before, knock on wood. It’s not 100 percent right now. When I get home (Montreal) I’m going to start my workout routine, work out the ankle routine and make sure that’s dealt with. Ankles aren’t that big of a deal in hockey because you’re wearing your boot for extra support.