HockeyProspect.com intern, Todd Cordell, recently had the chance to interview 2014 NHL Draft prospect, Brendan Lemieux from the Barrie Colts.
HP: Obviously you had a very successful playoff run with the Colts last year but fell just short of an OHL title and Memorial Cup appearance. What do you have to do this year to get there?
BL: “I think we definitely have a different team, but we have a lot of the same dynamic players that can really contribute to what success we had last year and what success we’re going to have this year. It comes down to just playing the right way. There’s no team in the OHL that can beat the Barrie Colts but the Barrie Colts. A lot of the time when we’re losing games we’re beating ourselves. Sticking to our structure and our game plan and playing the way we should play starts individually and then it starts from the goaltenders to the forwards. It’s just one of those things where we’ve gotta pay better attention to detail. It’s cost us a lot of games this year but we’ve won a lot of games because of it. We’ve been able to beat Sudbury a couple of times just playing the way we should play and it’s no miracle we beat them. We’re a dynamic enough team to win a lot of games this year, especially in the playoffs when anything can happen. We’re definitely looking to upset some people this year in the East.”
HP: What did you learn from last year’s long playoff run that you’ll look to apply this year?
BL: “Definitely never say never when you’re down in a goal, especially in the 3rd period. The most important thing in the playoffs is how well you deal with adversity. We dealt with suspensions, we dealt with injuries, we dealt with questionable reffing, we dealt with everything. We were only able to get to where we were because we dealt with adversity better than our opponents at the time. It came down to losing with one second left because we didn’t deal with the adversity of losing Camara and losing Scheifele well enough. We lost attention to detail for one shift there and it cost a Championship. Definitely the thing you learn from that is it’s over when it’s over and you’ve definitely got to play every second of every shift and always know that no matter what happens you have to play until the final whistle.”
HP: How happy are you with your game this season?
BL: “I would say it’s been a different year than last year. I came into a different role with much more ice time and I think I’ve had an OK year. A lot of individual success for a guy like me – a role player as it is. I’ve been a guy that’s played bigger minutes this year but a guy that really ties to team success and I think that my success is as good as the team which has been a little bit short but having a solid year. I think down the stretch and in the playoffs here – individually and as a team – we can leave our mark and make our damage and it’s really exciting.
HP: Is there any aspect of your game you feel has evolved or improved as the season has gone on?
BL: “As the year has went on I’ve been playing with more skilled guys. I’ve been playing with Andreas Athanasiou and Zach Hall, and playing with guys like that you really have to learn to be defensive minded but you have to learn to have offensive instincts and know where those guys are going to be. They’re not always up and down type guys and they sort of swerve all over the ice so you have to find those guys and be able to work with them. I think the offensive side of my game – the pure sense of moving the puck quickly and getting into open ice – that’s definitely improved for me this year. It’s been getting better and better and maybe my numbers have been OK this year, they haven’t been great but for the way I play I think it’s a pretty fair analysis of a guy like me and the numbers that I should have. It’s not always about the numbers for me, sometimes I’m out there creating space for guys like Athanasiou and Hall. It’s been a great learning experience for me this year and I’m definitely thankful to have the opportunity that I do in Barrie.”
HP: What do you view as the strengths of your game?
BL: “I pride myself on having the highest compete level on the ice and I try to bring that every night. I’m a power forward so my skating ability has to be strong skating up and down. I try to score as many goals as I can and finish pucks in front of the net. My scoring ability in front of the net, especially on the power play tipping pucks and just having a good net front presence and my compete level. I try and outwork my opponents every time I’m on the ice and a lot of the time that shines through and it’s a lot of the reason I have the success that I do.”
HP: Every player has things they can improve on, what aspect of your game do you think you need to get better with?
BL: “That’s a pretty easy one for me: composure. I’ve had a year where I’ve had way too many penalty minutes, and have been spending way too much time in the box. It comes with, whether it’s the last name or just the way I compose myself on the ice, I play with a lot of emotion and am a high compete level guy so when you have that it opens the door for refs to call lots of penalty’s on me. I’ve been getting better in the past little bit here but it’s gotta improve much more for me to be able to be the player I can be at the next level and even the junior level.”
HP: You play a lot like your father in that you can mix it up but are also talented, is that who you model your game after?
BL: “Absolutely. There’s no person I would compare myself more to than my dad. I try to model every game I play after him. He was my favourite player to watch when I could and was old enough to remember it and that’s the way I want to play. I want to be a guy that every team wants come playoff time.”
HP: Your head coach Dale Hawerchuk was obviously an elite player in the NHL for a long time and your dad had a lot of success at the NHL level as well. How nice is it to have those two to look up to for advice knowing the experience and success they’ve had?
BL: “It’s really unparalleled. They’re two of the best role models that I could have. I’m just really blessed to be able to have them in my life. Dale brings a totally different side of the game and a totally different point of view of hockey. He was a huge numbers guy and went first overall, was relied upon by his teammates all the time and was a go-to-guy all the time where as my dad was a playoff guy who really stepped up to the occasion often but wasn’t a guy always relied upon, especially early in his career. I really get insight from those two and it’s huge for me. Dale’s a blessing and a great coach.”
HP: Have you thought about the draft and your status at all?
BL: “As much as guys try not to focus on the draft, you try to put it in the back of your mind but realistically in the 21st century and with the way things are with social media, it’s really not hard to look at that stuff. For a guy like me I’m passionate and really want to be a 1st round pick in the NHL so either way you have to use it as motivation. If you’re rising it’s good and you have to keep going, but if you’re falling you need to wake up and fight through it. Either way there’s always going to be people with different opinions and you should never really look too much into it. I’ve been at the last few drafts with some of my dad’s clients from his agency and I’ve seen guys projected to be drafted real high and go real low and guys projected real low and go high so it’s not always a tell tale.”
HP: If you could play on a line with any two NHLers, who would they be and why?
BL: “That’s pretty easy for me. It’s Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. I think they were one of the most dominant lines at the Olympics. I like the way they play. They don’t try and do anything too fancy and keep it real simple. They’re big, physical, strong and two of my definite role models in the NHL right now. They’re two guys I’d have a lot of fun playing with.”
HP: If you could take one current teammate with you to the NHL, whom would you choose.
BL: “I’d have to go with my roommate Aaron Ekblad. I have two other good buddies’ on the team – Josh Carrick and Matthew Kreis – but Aaron’s my best buddy and we spend a lot of time together. Aaron’s ready to make the jump and if we both get drafted to the same team and play together I think that’d be pretty cool. You never know what can happen.”
Interview by HockeyProspect.com Intern, Todd Cordell, on March 7th, 2014