|Friedmann, Team Canada|
Of the 35 kids participating in the Kings annual Development Camp, only one player – David Friedmann – still calls the OJHL home. It’s a junior-A hockey league, one step below the more well known major-junior leagues, like the OHL and WHL.
Back in the day, reigning NHL Rookie of the Year, Jeff Skinner, wore an OJHL sweater – long before anybody knew him as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes.
And another Kings camper, Andy Andreoff – fresh off of being drafted in the third round two weeks ago, also spent some time in the league a few years ago. He played for the Pickering Panthers, his hometown team, before moving on to the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.
Soon, Friedmann will be taking his skills elsewhere too, as he’ll eventually head off to Robert Morris University.
However that’s another year away. This season he’ll be back in familiar territory. He was traded this past season from his long-time team, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens, to the stronger Georgetown Raiders. Yet, it was a short term deal that called for him to return to the Canadiens once the season ended.
Before that part of his life resumes, he’ll be taking part in the Kings Development Camp. In the interview below he talks about how that all came together for him, which player he’s already met, playing oversees, Sidney Crosby and much more…
MM: Let’s talk stats. Your numbers saw a huge spike up at the start of this season – going from four goals in 47 games two seasons ago to 16 goals in 33 games before the trade. What changed for you?
DF: Basically, my first year I just wanted to be a guy on the team. I wasn’t shooting much and I was playing tentatively. Then, I worked hard all last summer on my shot and my overall game. I took things to the next level and played a little more selfishly. Even though I’m still a big passer and a playmaker, I started shooting the puck more and things are good.
MM And then no points in four playoff games, what happened?
DF: During the playoffs I was battling a couple of small injuries. So, things were tough and we ended up losing in the first round as well. It was a little bitter end to the season, but I’m healthy now and ready to go.
MM: You’re scheduled to attend Robert Morris University in the fall of 2012. How did you land there, what was the process?
DF: I had some interest from a few other schools – like Holy Cross and Sacred Heart. Once Robert Morris offered me and I went down there, I realized how good the coaches were and how the hockey program is turning out to be one of the premier hockey programs, I knew it was the right fit. Plus, they’re business schools is one of the best. So, it was a win-win situation both for hockey and academics.
MM: In April you played for Team Canada at the Three Nations Cup in Finland. What was the best part about the trip and what was your least favorite part?
DF: The best part was definitely the competition. We were a little bit overmatched, but we played against the Finish and Swedish World Junior teams – all their ’92s and ’91s (birth years). It was great to be out their with that level of competition and see who I might be battling with for spots later on in my career. It’s exciting to see how good other kids are around the world. I guess the worst part – although there really weren’t any because it was an unbelievable time and we saw a lot – but I’d say the food wasn’t as good as the North American food. They had coffee and treats with the pasta before games. I wasn’t really used to sweets before a game.
MM: So, I heard that you were a die hard Maple Leafs fan growing up, but who’s your favorite NHL player and why?
DF: I have a couple, but definitely my favorite is Sidney Crosby because of the way he carries himself on and off the ice. He’s such a tremendous person and a tremendous hockey player. I’d say I try to model myself after him or just learn little things from him that I can use in myself, both physically and mentally.
[little known trivia fact, Crosby participated in the Kings summer development camp back in 2004 - before being drafted by Pittsburgh in June 2005]
MM: Who connected you with the Kings and what are your expectations for camp?
DF: I think the first time I was scouted by the Kings was last year by Mike Futa. I played for Slovakia in the Ivan Hlinka tournament (note: he holds dual citizenship, both of his parent were born in Slovakia). He then saw me once during the regular season and once in Finland this year when I was playing for Canada. He basically expressed some interest and then after April I didn’t really hear much. Then, recently I got the call and was invited to come to camp. It’s a real thrill.
MM: Looking over the roster of guys who will be attending the Development Camp, do you know anybody already?
DF: I know Tyler Toffoli. I’ve played my whole life for the Canadiens and he played for the year older team. Whenever I used to get called up I’d be on his team. He’s probably the best pure scorer I’ve ever seen. But, he’s the only one I know. So, I’m looking forward to meeting all the other guys and learning little tricks from them, where they play, where they’re from and so on.
MM: Last question, complete this sentence – If somebody wrote a book about my life up to this point in time, it would be titled _______.
DF: Living the Dream
As a special invitee to camp, his dream begins with on-ice workouts Monday morning at TSC in El Segundo.
Pre-camp interview with Tyler Toffoli – 2011 OHL scoring champion
Pre-camp comments from Kevin Gravel – St Cloud State defenseman, headed to USA camp too
Pre-camp interview with Michael Schumacher – 2011 LA Kings draft pick
Pre-camp interview with Monarchs Ray Kaunisto – talking Clune, Kozun, motivation and underrated