Yesterday, NHLPA executive and former player Mathieu Schneider joined Kings forward Kevin Westgarth and St. Louis Blues captain David Backes for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) session on Reddit. Fans were invited to submit their questions on any topic and the trio would take turns answering. You can see all the entries here and we’ve provided a recap of the Westgarth exchanges below…
Q: Favorite hockey players growing up?
A: Cam Neely, bar none. He did it all
Q: What drove you to play hockey? What is your favorite part about the sport as a whole? What is your most memorable moment off the ice during your career?
A:1) My parents put my brother and I in hockey at an early age (I am Canadian after all), and our motivation was due to the love of the game after our first taste. 2) The Fans are why we get to do this for a living, so thank you. Just being on the ice and the camaraderie with my teammates will be what I always remember. 3)The moments after winning the Cup were some of the most special of my life. The emotional exhaustion combined with the bliss of winning was shared with everyone in the organization. Also, I got married two summers ago, so that was awesome.
Q: What’s Thanksgiving with Coach Cowher like? [note: for those who don't know, he married Bill Cowher's daughter - something he talked about at length here] Did he ever try to use the powers of his chin on you? What’s more intimidating, his chin or having to drop the gloves?
A: I have been lucky enough to stay in his good graces for the most part, so I hope the Chin stays tucked away.
Q: Who do you think is currently the toughest player in the league?
Q: Worst Experience in Hockey? Best One?
A: Worst: Putting on wet equipment… Best: Winning the Stanley Cup
Q: What are some of the biggest differenences in the game today vs the game 20 years ago?
A: I think the speed and strength of players has increased to a scary degree. Goaltending is way too good nowadays, for sure, so I would love to see stand-up goaltending make a comeback.
Q: How has the hockey atmosphere changed in LA since you started playing there? Are people getting more involved in hockey from what you can tell?
A: Our Cup run was incredible to see. We have had great fans for many years, but it was amazing to have the support that won us the Stanley Cup. On top of that, it’s great to see the young players that are coming out of California these day. The best way to grow the game is to get people to play.
Q: Why couldn’t you guys get a deal (new CBA) done during the summer?
A: We were available throughout the summer, unfortunately it seems the NHL was hell bent on putting pressure on the players with the Lockout. I wish it was as simple as spending a certain amount of time together, negotiating, but its very frustrating to see how little progress can be made with a seemingly unwilling partner.
Q: When are we getting out hockey back? I’m fearful that if this season is completely lost, which it’s really starting to look like it, that this will somehow affect next year’s season and its start time.
A: It would absolutely kill me if we were to lose another season. It makes no sense to me how we have even gotten to this point, and would love a reasonable negotiating stance from Bettman and the Owners. I can understand your frustration, and share in it. The momentum and health of our game is being put at risk, and its a sad state of affairs. In 04-05, the Owners wanted a Salary Cap, which they got by costing us all a season. We have offered $1 Billion in concessions, with nothing in return, and it hasn’t gotten us back on the ice.
Q: Who is the smartest player on your team?
A: Anyone who is smart enough not to fight for a living…
Q: As a Vancouver Canucks fan, are we really the most hated team in the league?
Q: What was your favorite part of playing in the AHL?
A: I loved ManchVegas. Those years with the guys I grew up with as a pro hockey player are times I’ll never forget. We all were there to play hockey and live the dream, it was amazing to be a part of.
Q: What is your favorite city to play in? Most fun team to play against? Which city has the best fans, outside of the teams you’ve played for?
A: Favourite City: Detroit (close to home) Most fun team to play: Philadelphia, a hard-nosed game with great chirps from the stands Best fans: Philly fans are insane, ie the best.
Q: Hey Westy, since Clifford won the bet over the first Gordie between the two of you, what’s the next bet you two will have? Also how did your steak taste that night.
A: Haha, great question. That steak was pretty phenomenal, Cliffy and I got to enjoy at the Fleming’s in Manhattan Beach, CA. Tell him Kyle sent you! We may have to come up with a double Gordie bet or something…Any suggestions?
Q; Besides your own teams, who has the best goal horn/song in the NHL in your opinion?
A: I wish I didn’t have the Chicago goal song stuck in my head so much when leaving the United Center…
Q: 1.Best player you’ve ever played against? 2.Best Player in the league right now? 3.Most under appreciated player in the league? 4.Most under appreciated player on your team? 5.Player that plays you or your team the hardest?
Q: What player did you play against that you couldn’t help but be in awe of?
A: Being on the ice with Lidstrom was surreal. Growing up across the river, I got to see the Wings play a lot growing up. Such an aura around their team.
Q: Who is the most respected player in the league in your mind?
A: Rob Scuderi – best NHL’er out there
Part of Westgarth’s closing comments to the fans who participated also included – “Please don’t lose faith in us and the game, I assure you we’re going to get back to work on figuring out this deal.”
For more with Westgarth, check out when he came on the MayorsManor show last month and did a similar open forum with LA Kings fans – we had readers submit questions about the lockout and he tried to explain what some of the sticking points actually meant in layman’s terms (link).