The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals waged a classic 7 Game War, that for one franchise has exposed a number of shortfalls and raised plenty of questions surrounding their future.
Now that the ash from the series has settled and all the tears have dried up, here are interviews with members of the AHL’s Hersey Bears (Washington’s AHL Affiliate) – Chris Bourque and Zach Sill. Both have spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals during the course of their careers and presently are in the 2nd Round of the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs, battling the Providence Bruins.
Appeared in 76 Games with Hersey this season), Scoring 60 PTS (18 Goals, 42 Assists)
Left Wing — shoots L
Born Jan 29 1986 — Boston, MA
Height 5.08 — Weight 180
You were drafted 33rd Overall in the 2004 Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals. Can you share you draft day experiences (Feelings before and After being selected) and what are your thoughts are in 2016, on how deep that Draft Class ended up being?
CB: “THE DRAFT EXPERIENCE FOR ME WAS GREAT, MY WHOLE FAMILY MADE THE TRIP TO RALEIGH. I DID NOT KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT GOING IN, I WAS JUST HOPING TO HEAR MY NAME CALLED. WHEN MY NAME WAS CALLED IT WAS A SURREAL FEELING AND TO BE DRAFTED TO A GREAT ORGANIZATION LIKE THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS MADE MY DRAFT DAY THAT MUCH MORE SPECIAL.” “THE DRAFT CLASS THAT YEAR WAS VERY STRONG WITH ALEXANDER OVECHKIN AND EVGENI MALKIN GOING 1 AND 2. I AM HAPPY THAT I WAS APART OF SUCH A STRONG DRAFT CLASS.”
Who were some the players you drew inspiration from watching as a child?
CB: “GROWING UP OBVIOUSLY MY DAD (RAY BOURQUE) WAS MY FAVORITE PLAYER BUT I WAS ALSO A HUGE CAM NEELY FAN AS A KID. AS I PROGRESSED IN MY OWN HOCKEY CAREER I BEGAN TO APPRECIATE AND MODEL MY GAME AFTER MARTIN ST. LOUIS, I REALLY LIKED THE WAY HE PLAYED THE GAME.”
You thrived in your role as Captain for the Cushing Academy Penguins (2002-2004), scoring 57 Points & 90 Points respectively in your 2 seasons as a member of the team. What leadership lessons/skills did you learn from that experience and how have you been able to build on?
CB: “DURING MY TIME AT CUSHING I WAS LOOKED AT AS LEADER AND THAT’S SOMETHING I TOOK PRIDE IN, I HAD A GREAT TIME PLAYING AT CUSHING. I THINK THAT MY TIME THERE WAS A KEY POINT IN MY EARLY CAREER, IT WAS SOMEWHAT OF A LAUNCH PAD. GETTING TO OPPORTUNITY AT CUSHING TO BE A LEADER DEFINITELY HELPED ME DEVELOP MY LEADERSHIP QUALITIES THAT I STILL CARRY WITH ME TODAY.”
Who were some of the “Veterans” that have helped guide you along the way?
CB: “I HAVE SPENT MOST OF MY CAREER IN HERSHEY, SO MOST OF MY INFLUENCES HAVE COME FROM THIS ORGANIZATION, AS A YOUNG PLAYER I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN FROM SOME GREAT VETERAN PLAYERS THAT HELPED ME PROGRESS ON THE ICE AS A PLAYER AND OFF THE ICE AS A PERSON. KEITH AUCOIN, BRYAN HELMER & BOYD KANE ARE FORMER TEAMMATES THAT HAVE HELPED GUIDE ME OVER THE YEARS.”
Recently we spoke with Wayne Primeau and discussed the “Friendly” competition that existed between himself and his brother Keith. Would you say it was an advantage to have someone so close to you, aspiring to reach the same goal(s) to drive your development and give you some extra motivation? And can you describe the experience of spending a considerable time on the same roster as Ryan?
CB: “YES, HAVING SOMEONE THAT YOU SHARE A SPECIAL BOND WITH WORKING TOWARDS A COMMON GOAL IS SOMETHING SPECIAL, IN THIS CASE, MY BROTHER RYAN AND I ARE VERY CLOSE AND VERY SUPPORTIVE OF EACHOTHER, I WANT TO SEE HIM SUCCEED AND I KNOW THAT HE WANTS TO SEE MY SUCCEED AS WELL.”
In terms of your 20 Games with the Penguins, Can you share some special memories from your time with the team/city?
CB: “MY TIME WITH THE PENGUINS WAS IN EYE OPENING EXPERIENCE, BEING AROUND PLAYERS LIKE SIDNEY CROSBY, EVGENI MALKIN & BILL GUERIN ON A REGULAR BASIS WAS A VERY POSITIVE EXPERIENCE. THE GROUP THEY HAD IN PITTSBURGH AT THAT TIME WAS SPECIAL, THEY HAD JUST WON THE STANLEY CUP IN THE PREVIOUS SEASON, I WAS JUST HAPPY TO BE APART OF SUCH A SPECIAL GROUP OF PLAYERS.
Did you have any specific areas of your game that you targeted during the off-season and what are your personal goals that you want to accomplish this season?
CB: “THIS OFF-SEASON I JUST TRIED TO STAY CONSISTENT WITH MY WORKOUTS AND ICETIMES. WE HAD A DEEP RUN INTO THE PLAYOFFS LAST YEAR MAKING IT TO THE CALDER CUP FINALS, BUT I STILL MADE SURE TO GET IN NECESSARY WORK IN DURING MY OFFSEASON.
“MY GOALS FOR THIS SEASON ARE AS ALWAYS TO TRY AND WIN A CALDER CUP BUT I ALSO WANT TO CONTINUE TO DEVELOP AS A PLAYER AND HELP HERSHEY MAKE ANOTHER STRONG RUN.”
Are you being looked upon this season to provide guidance to some of the younger players on the roster and what are some of the most important lessons you give them regarding conduct on/off the ice and away from the rink?
CB: “YES, BEING A VETERAN I DO TRY AND HELP THE YOUNGER PLAYERS DEVELOP THE CORRECT HABITS AND HELP THEM UNDERSTAND SOME THE SMALL DETAILS OF THE GAME THAT WILL HELP THEM MAKE THE JUMP TO THE NHL. IT’S IMPORTANT FOR YOUNGER PLAYERS TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A GOOD PRO BOTH ON AND OFF THE ICE.”
What are some of your favorite things about Hershey, PA?
CB: “FOR ME I HAVE A WIFE AND TWO YOUNG CHILDREN, SO HERSHEY IS A GREAT AREA FOR A FAMILY, WE HAVE HERSHEYPARK AND ALL THE OTHER ATTRACTIONS LOCALLY SO WHEN I GO ON THE ROAD OR I AM AT HOME IT’S AN EASY PLACE TO KEEP KIDS BUSY.”
Most painful injury?
CB: “HIGH ANKLE SPRAIN”
Most underrated teammate?
CB: “IN HERSHEY I WOULD SAY IT WOULD BE SWEDISH DEFENSEMAN CHRISTIAN DJOOS, BUT OVER THE COURSE OF MY CAREER I THINK CAPITALS CENTER JAY BEAGLE IS VERY UNDERRATED.”
Appeared in 60 Games with Hershey this season, scoring 16 Points (7 Goals, 9 Assists)
Center — shoots L
Born May 24 1988 — Truro, NS
Height 6.00 — Weight 202
The Toronto Hockey Media has earned somewhat of a “Savage” reputation, specifically for it’s treatment of Maple Leaf(s) players. What do you feel makes Toronto such a hotbed for the Rabid fans and media?
ZS: “I THINK THERE IS A LOT OF TRADITION IN THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS ORGANIZATION, THE FANS AND PEOPLE THAT ARE CONNECTED INTO THE TORONTO HOCKEY MARKET EXPECT NOTHING BUT THE BEST NIGHT IN AND NIGHT OUT.”
Throughout your career, you have earned the reputation of being a “model of consistency” What fuels your desire & passion for delivering that “Consistency” on a nightly basis?
ZS: “I CONSIDER MY ROLE TO BE SIMPLE, I TRY TO BRING ENERGY AND GRIT TO EVERY SHIFT. I AM COMMITTED TO MY ROLE WITHIN THE TEAM AND I JUST TRY AND STAY CONSISTENT WITH THE THINGS THAT MAKE ME EFFECTIVE.”
In terms of your time with the Penguins, can you share any special memories of the city and from the ice/locker room?
ZS: “PITTSBURGH WAS THE FIRST ORGANIZATION I PLAYED FOR IN THE NHL, BEING A PART OF THAT DRESSING ROOM WITH SOME OF THE BEST PLAYERS IN THE WORLD IS SOMETHING THAT I WILL NEVER FORGET.”
Can you break down your 1st NHL goal, scored on Corey Crawford and the Post goal celebration?
ZS: “I JUST REMEMBER GETTING THE PUCK IN THE SLOT OFF A WALL PLAY FROM ANDREW EBBETT, I SHOT FOR THE TOP RIGHT CORNER AND IT ENDED UP GETTING PAST CRAWFORD. THE CELEBRATION WAS PURE EXCITEMENT AND SOME RELIEF AS WELL, IT TOOK ME A WHILE TO GET MY FIRST ONE!”
I feel games are won in the trenches and often the 3rd, 4th Lines dictate pace and often are the catalyst that can spark comebacks or wear opposing players down to protect a lead. Do you feel that the role of “Grinder” has evolved in recent seasons ? and who were some of your heroes growing up, that would fit that definition?
ZS: “I THINK THE ROLE HAS EVOLVED, IN TODAY’S GAME 3RD AND 4TH LINE PLAYERS HAVE TO BE ABLE TO PLAY IN ALL 3 ZONES, IF YOU LOOK AT ROSTERS AT THE NHL AND AHL LEVEL GUYS THAT ARE PUTTING IN MINUTES ON THE 3RD AND 4TH LINE ARE TALENTED HOCKEY PLAYERS.”
ZS: “GROWING UP WENDELL CLARK WAS MY HOCKEY IDOL, HE WAS TOUGH TO PLAY AGAINST AND PLAYED WITH AN EDGE.”
You are now part of on the most dangerous NHL/AHL pairings in Hockey (Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears) What characteristics do you feel makes those organisations such a dangerous tandem?
ZS: “BOTH ORGANISATIONS ARE RUN WELL FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, WASHINGTON AND HERSHEY BOTH HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR THEIR PLAYERS, THE COACHING & TRAINING STAFFS WITH BOTH ORGANISATIONS WANT THE BEST FOR EACH PLAYERS CAREER.”
What are your goals for this season?
ZS: “MY GOALS FOR THIS SEASON ARE TO PLAY WELL ENOUGH TO GET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY WTH WASHINGTON IN THE NHL. IF I END UP STAYING DOWN IN HERSHEY THEN THE GOAL IS TO WIN A CALDER CUP.”
Most painful injury?
ZS: “THEY ALL HURT, BUT IF I WAS TO PICK ONE IT WOULD HAVE TO BE A SEPERATED SHOULDER WHEN I WAS PLAYING FOR PITTSBURGH.”
ZS: “AT THE LEVEL WE ARE AT IT’S HARD TO SINGLE OUT ONE PLAYER OR TEAM THAT IS THE TOUGHEST, EVERYONE IS GOOD.”
If you could sum up your career (to date) in a sentence or two, what would you say?
ZS: “I HAVE DONE A LOT MORE WITH MY HOCKEY CAREER THAN I EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE, I HOPE THAT I CAN CONTINUE TO DEVELOP AND HAVE SUCCESS AND PLAY FOR A LONG TIME.”
Where are the must visit locations of your hometown Truro, NS, CAN?
ZS: “TRURO IS A SMALL TOWN BUT IF ANYONE EVER VISITS I WOULD SAY VICTORIA PARK IS A NICE PLACE FOR HIKING AND TO GET OUTDOORS, THE NOOK AND CRANNY IS A GOOD LOCALLY OWNED RESTURANT AND OFCOARSE IF YOUR IN TRURO DURING HOCKEY SEASON DON’T MISS A CHANCE TO SEE THE TRURO BEARCATS PLAY AT THE RATH EASTLINK COMMUNITY CENTER.”