Last season, an undrafted player by the name of Joey Haddad was invited to prospect camp by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He impressed the staff so much, that he received an invite to the main training camp. After signing a three-year entry level deal with the Pens, he was returned to juniors, where he would go on to score 55 points (30 goals, 25 assists) in 50 games with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. This season, Haddad will most likely be joining the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Baby Penguins. Joey was kind enough to grant us an interview. Here’s what the tough kid from Sydney, Nova Scotia had to say..

Joey Haddad, courtesy John P Donovan

Eric Politowski: To start off, who was your favorite player growing up as a kid?

Joey Haddad: I can’t say I really had one favorite. There was no clear cut number one. I liked a lot of different players.

EP: For most of the Pittsburgh fans who haven’t seen you in action yet, what kind of game do you play?

JH: I play a power forward style. I don’t rely on one aspect of my game or just one certain skill. I try to be the most complete player I can be. That means using my big body and being physical, playing a strong reliable defensive game, but at the same time use my offensive ability and help the team in the offensive zone as well.

EP: What player in the NHL do you compare yourself to?

JH: When I look at my season in junior last year, I feel one of the most comparable players in the NHL is Jerome Iginla. He has a great shot, good offensive abilities but he also plays a tough game and is good defensively. It’s hard to compare and try to guess who I will play like because I feel every player is different and I have a lot of different traits.

EP: You were invited to Penguins prospect camp in Kitchener, Ontario last season. While there, you impressed the right people and earned yourself a three-year entry level deal before being sent back to juniors. How did they approach you to let you know they were interested in signing you?

JH: When I found out I was invited to the Pittsburgh rookie camp I worked out hard and got in the mindset that I was going there to earn a contract. Once I got invited to main camp, then went to Wilkes Barre I knew I had a real shot. Now, almost a year later, time just seemed to fly by and now I’m just excited to get my pro career going.

EP: After being traded to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, you seemed to discover your scoring touch, tallying back-to-back 30 goal seasons. Was it just a change of scenery, or did you discover something new?

JH: The change of scenery definitely helped. I was always able to score goals, coming to Cape Breton really opened the door for me and once I got through I never looked back. I owe a lot to the Cape Breton organization, they had faith in me and gave me the chance to be my own player.

EP: One of the main issues being discussed by NHL GM’s today is “fighting in hockey”. After dropping the gloves a few times yourself, do you believe it is a necessary element in today’s game?

JH: Necessary, no. But it is and I think should always be a part of the game. Hockey isn’t like the old days. You can’t just go out there and do whatever you want and get away with it. But still, I think fighting is better for the game than it is bad.

EP: Do you expect to play in the AHL under Wilkes-Barre/Scranton this upcoming season or have they given you other plans?

JH: My expectations for myself is to play at the highest level of hockey I can. Pittsburgh is an organization that gives opportunity and rewards you for hard work and that’s what I plan on doing.

EP: In October of 2008, you were suspended three games by the QMJHL for “kneeing an opponent”. Does this mean you like to play with an edge, or was this just an accident?

JH: I definitely like to play with an edge. The knee was accidental. I felt it was more his fault for trying to get out of the way. I was just trying to finish my check.

EP: Most consider you a player who has a huge knack for scoring, who comes through at clutch times of the game. Do you agree with that assessment?

JH: Ahah it sounds good that’s for sure. I can agree with the assessment. Every player wants to score the big goal, but you have to put yourself in a situation to be given the chance to score that goal.

EP: One of the local websites reported that you had an injured knee, which is why you didn’t take part in any of the on-ice activities at this years Penguins Prospect camp. If true, how serious is the injury?

JH: It is true. I had a tear in my lateral meniscus which required minor day surgery. I didn’t take part in the on ice so I could build my leg back up and get it strong again. Come September it will be like it never happened.

EP: Favorite pre-game meal?

JH: Every home game I would have homemade chicken Parmesan. I will never get it at a restaurant though. Not a fan.

EP: Favorite movie?

JH: I watch so many movies it’s hard to pick a favorite. Armageddon is way up there.

EP: Do you play the video game NHL 09? If so, any online play?

JH: I play a lot of video games and NHL 09 is probably my favorite. Never play it online though, only Call Of Duty.

EP: Any last words or anything you’d like to add..

JH: I’m excited to start my professional career this fall and thanks for the interview!

Huge thanks go to Joey for a great interview. Best of luck this upcoming season, we’ll see you in training camp!