Exclusive Interview With Penguins Prospect Brian Strait
Jesse Marshall: Let’s go back to the draft, growing up a Boston native, did you prefer to go to the Bruins? Were you hoping for that?
Brian Strait: It didn’t really matter to me, to be honest with you. The Bruins are a good franchise and all, but I was just excited to get drafted. I wanted to stay on an East Coast division and play for an East Coast team.
JM: So, besides relieved, how did you feel about going to Pittsburgh?
BS: I was so excited, I had a meeting with them at the combine and that was one of my better meetings, I knew they really liked me but I didn’t know they were going to use their 3rd overall pick on me. But needless to say, it was great to have them pick me there.
JM: Any NHL idols you had growing up as a kid in Boston?
BS: Yeah, Chris Drury, always. Even though he’s a forward.
JM: So what lead you to Boston University? Was it recruiting? Did you have your heart set there to begin with?
BS: Yeah, I’m a Boston kid, I’ve been going to those games for forever. There are certain towns that are BU fans and certain towns that are BC fans, there were a lot of BU fans where I was from, they are a hard-nosed, blue-collar kinda people. I’ve always went to the games, always wanted to go there, it was just a dream come true when I did get there.
JM: What’s your major?
BS: Undecided, as of now.
JM: So down the road a ways there is another big Penguins prospect at Boston College, Carl Sneep. Have you had any interaction with him at the Beanpot or anything like that?
BS: Yeah, I met Carl at the draft and I met him at World Junior Camp. I also saw him for a bit at the rookie camp in Pittsburgh.
JM: Do you have a four-year commitment to Boston University or are you going to take your career as it comes?
BS: I’m just gonna take things as they come along, you never know what’s going to happen. Life throws you a curveball sometimes. You just roll with the punches.
JM: So at BU this year, you lost star goaltender John Curry and a few other seniors. Does losing a goaltender of that caliber put pressure on you as a defenseman?
BS: No, I think we have plenty to back us up right now. We have three good goalies right now. We have three good guys that can fight for the spot. Curry was the guy last year, but I think you’ll see that BU is going to have solid goal tending this year.
JM: Do you think there will be any growing pains to start the year? Can you see BU coming out of the gate and having a good start to this season?
BS: I’d like to get off to a hot start at the beginning. BU has been known for starting off slow and picking it up towards the end, really turning it on towards the end. We’re really working to change that. We want to have a strong beginning to the year and a strong end to the year. We want to be really thorough. We want to be consistent so we don’t have to deal with things that have haunted us in the past. You really need a complete season to have a shot at being a National Champion.
JM: Recently, we see a lot of guys going into the USHL or the BCHL and getting some experience there before college. Did you feel like you were at a disadvantage coming straight from high school?
BS: No, not at all. We played all college teams my last year of high school. We played BU, we played Wisconsin, I felt like a sophomore coming into the season. I already played that type of hockey. I felt pretty good out there. I learned a lot. It was great, I didn’t feel out of place at all. I don’t think I saw any difference.
JM: Moving into your sophomore year is there anything you want to improve upon as a player?
BS: I just gotta keep going, keep getting better, keep getting stronger, keep playing well defensively, learn to play better offensively. Hopefully my offensive numbers will get a little better and just see where it goes from there. As long as I stay focused and keep my mind on hockey I should be alright.
JM: Touching on prospect camp a bit, how tough was it for you to get there being a collegiate athlete?
BS: They took care of it. We basically had to pay for the hotel room, the flight there. Any equipment we used there we had to give back, they really took care of most of it. There weren’t a whole lot of problems.
JM: You really seemed to impress a lot of fans and local media around here during camp. Did you walk away from this experience with the feeling that you’d made an impression?
BS: No, we really didn’t do too much on the ice. We only skated three times and it wasn’t for very long. No one had really skated that much. I did alright out there. I think where I really did impress was in the weight room and show them I could do it there. On the ice, it wasn’t as intense as some other rookie camps. Overall it was good, I felt good walking away from it.
JM: When people talk about Brian Strait, what do you want them to say about you as a player?
BS: Very, very good defensive defenseman. Great leader. An all around team player that does what it takes. Someone who wants to play a complete game.
JM: I know you’re a defensive defenseman, is there any pressure on you to improve that offensive game at all? Is that something you’d like to get better at?
BS: Yeah, you always want to work on your offense. I know I’ll have a bigger offensive role this year at BU. I know that when I go pro I’m not going to end up being an offensive defenseman. I’m fine with that. I just want to play hockey, so, whatever is going to get me there. Obviously, though, I’m always looking to get better.
JM: Any defenseman in the current NHL that you’d compare yourself to?
BS: A little bit like Bret Hedican, I think. He’s a strong skater. Good defensively. Moves the puck well. He’s a good two-way defender. He’s not the best offensively but he does what it takes.
JM: Your dad left a nice comment on our website. Is he someone who’s had a big role in your hockey career?
BS: Yeah, he’s always had a huge impact on my hockey life. He comes to every game. He doesn’t miss any. Even if we’re in a little fight, he tells me he’s not going to come, but he’s there. We always work it out. He’s been a part of it ever since I was a kid. He was always taking me to practice.
JM: Okay, time for the easy stuff. Favorite movie?
JM: Favorite band?
BS: How about singer? I like Kenny Chesney.
JM: If you couldn’t play hockey, what would be your dream job?
BS: I think it’d be fun to be a pro-golfer.
JM: So, you hit the links?
BS: Yeah, I like to golf. I get out when I can.
JM: So what are you shooting nowadays?
BS: Last time I played I shot a 77.
JM: You’re better than I am.
BS: I’m not too bad, I’m workin on it. That was back when I played 4 rounds for the alumni tournament. Shot a pretty good few rounds.
A special thanks to Brian for being so kind. We wish him the best of luck next year as sophomore at Boston University!