The pursuit of Drew was a tough one. With his busy schedule, I poked and prodded at him until he responded to me. I’m kidding, Drew is a busy man, but he’s a fan’s kind of man. This week, I got to interview Drew in this exclusive Blades of Teal interview. I hope you all enjoy. And for those who want to give me some new questions for my next interview (maybe if Brodie Brazil can spare a minute?), please tweet me @BMHo. Enjoy!
What do you think about this year’s playoffs? Especially with the Kings playing miracle on Ice with a command of the playoffs this postseason.
Well, I love hockey. I watch a ton of games and I love the playoffs. I’m not sure if anybody on the planet picked a Devils-Kings Final but that is the NHL.
The Kings were supposed to be a very good team with the moves that Dean Lombardi made in the off season. But then he added Coach Sutter and Big D knows how to push the right buttons.
Jarret Stoll (Kings Centre) is a friend of mine and he has told me that Darryl has given everyone a roll and everyone feels important within the team structure.
Who in the NHL has surprisingly excited you this year?
Well in the playoffs, The Kings, Coyotes and Devils have surprised me. During the regular seasons there were many teams that surprised me, but they couldn’t hold there momentum. I liked the Flyers depth in scoring and I love they way they played, physical and fast.
Ottawa and Florida were big surprises for me. Both teams were wonderfully quick and skilled. I didn’t think the Rangers would be able to maintain the number 1 spot in the East but they played a hard defensive style game after game.
Vice versa, who were you not impressed with this year that has in the past?
Columbus, Minnesota, Calgary and Tampa. Without getting into detail and insulting any teams, I just expected they would be better.
What made the Sharks fall from the ranks of an elite team this year?
Well, that is the question isn’t it? I’m not a GM but I play one from time to time. Remember I work for the team and I wish to continue working for them so I have to choose my words carefully.
First the team did not have enough speed. The game is fast now and if you can’t attack quick and support quickly it is tough to apply pressure.
They lacked depth as well offensively. Only 6 players had double digit goals last season.
The Sharks relied on Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski offensively and they were hot and cold delivering points.
I liked the team defense but the goaltending could have been better.
From an ex-coach’s point of view, what will help them succeed more next season?
Remember I was part of the coaching staff that lost 100 games quicker than any other in the history of the league, so take what I say with a grain of salt.
Obviously the penalty kill has to improve. I think the team was too passive. I think Todd and his staff will instill a penalty kill scheme that pressures the opposition more.
Defensively as well they spent too much time in their zone, goes back to the answer before about speed and quickness. Now it is hockey and there will be times when you will get pinned in your zone, but if you can get back to pucks quicker with support you can limit that time and move from into more transition.
Another aspect is the players have to understand what roll they can reach and play to that on a nightly basis. I am a big believer in role players make or break a team.
How did you get your start in coaching hockey and sports broadcasting?
What were you doing before coaching San Jose Sharks hockey and broadcasting?
I will answer with one long answer. I started coaching kids, the Bantam A Hawks, in Saskatoon. I was 19 and we won the city championship that year. I just kept moving up the ranks. I got my first break when Willie Desjardins, (now an Assistant in Dallas) brought me on staff with the University of Calgary Dinosaurs. Pretty much a month later Dave King got me to volunteer with the Canadian Men’s National Team. We were a full time Men’s National Team before professionals were allowed in the Olympics. Anyway an arm of the National Team was the Centre of Excellence. A resource centre for developing coaches. We created videos for coaches that broke down the game. First all I did was watch video of international games all day long just cataloging clips, breakouts, regroups, face-off plays and forechecks. Later I became Video Co-Ordinator and started editing those into teaching videos. I would also support the National Team Coaches with video of their games.
Dave King in my time at Hockey Canada taught me how to breakdown a game. He lit the fire for my passion to coach and become a student of the game.
In the summer at various Coaching Symposiums, I met and worked with great coaches. Mike Babcock, Tom Watt, Bob Murdoch, Clare Drake and George Kingston. George was the first coach of the Sharks and liked my work and gave me my big break into the NHL. I will be forever grateful to him.
I was with the Sharks as an Assistant for 5 years got fired, moved back to Saskatoon for a winter. A friend asked if I wanted to provide colour on the local radio for the Saskatoon Blades games of the WHL, I did that.
Randy Hahn and Dan Rusanowsky heard that I was doing that and when the opportunity came up they tossed my name into the hat in San Jose. I will be forever grateful to them as well. Spent 3 years with Danny on the radio then moved to TV when Steve Konroyd left. I have always said, I have one of the best jobs in the world and it sure beats working for a living.
Besides having your trusty Pepsi, what are some rituals, superstitions, and traditions you have for game days?
I don’t have any superstition. Dave King once told me that he who believes in superstition does not believe in his own abilities. There are a few things that I always want to have done before the camera comes on. I watch at least one game of the opposition. I have to have my shirt and suit pressed and my tie and pocket square with the suit the night before the game. I always talk to the coaches game day. I always polish my shoes game day, and I get a workout in before the game.
What do you do during your off seasons?
For all but two of the last 6 seasons my family has stayed in Saskatoon while I have been in San Jose. As you can guess this is very hard. So I come back to Saskatoon as soon as I can and I try to be a good husband and dad. I also have a daily radio sports show based out of Saskatoon. It is two hours a day so that keeps me busy. I emcee a couple of events and dinners. My favourite being Jarret Stoll’s golf tournament. This year Luke and Brayden Schenn are taking it over. In 5 years Jarret and his hockey pals have raised over a million dollars for The Royal University Hospital here in Saskatoon. Hockey players are such great guys. They never forget where they’re from.
Who is your top interviewee of your career?
Actually when I was with Hockey Night in Canada, I was fortunate enough to interview Jean Beliveau. He was such a gentleman and I was so nervous because he is also a legend I kept calling him Mr. Beliveau before every question. He was gracious and articulate and I said to my producer after, ” I can quit now.”
Now time for some questions that you the fans wanted to ask the Drew’s Clues man himself.
We know you have a twitter, we’ve seen it. What will it take for you to use the Twitter Machine? Also, how do you feel about players exchanging information on Facebook and Twitter?
I do not have a twitter account. There is a Drew Remenda on Twitter but that is not me so don’t believe what you read. Unless I am forced by my employers I will not be on twitter or facebook. I really don’t have that much to offer that move the world forward or provoke thought. C’mon, do people really care that I had a good workout and a great dinner? Most of what I hear that is tweeted or liked on facebook is tripe.
As far as the players using social media, go ahead, knock yourself out. But don’t be surprised or shocked when the words you send out on the world wide web come back to bite you in the ass.
What are some of the best locker room stories that you can share?
Like Vegas what happens in the locker room stays in the locker room-Sorry.
How often/do you guys ever play pranks among each other? If so, what kind?
We broadcasters don’t play that many pranks on each other. The last time I remember is we left Dan Rusanowsky sleeping in a booth at an all night diner in Annapolis, but that was years ago. We’ve matured and we’re still fearful Danny is plotting an elaborate revenge.
What are some things besides no touch icing, that will make the game safer for the players and more entertaining for the fans?
Take away the trapezoid and let the goalies play the puck, that way defencemen won’t get put through the boards on close icing calls. Get rid of the hard plastic on shoulder and elbow pads, so if a player does get a shoulder to the chin, it won’t send him into a year long post concussion absence. I would love to have the ice expanded to international size, 200 by 100 or go to 4 on 4 hockey. More space, more speed more chances.
Overtime in the regular season, should be 5 minutes 4 on 4 then 5 minutes 3 on 3.
Have you ever gotten blow back from anything you said on air?
I have been told many times by my superiors that I am not a journalist. I try to be fair and objective. Some people think I’m a Homer, some think I cheer against the Sharks. The truth is I want the team to win as bad as any fan but I try not to insult the intelligence of the anybody watching.
There is a push now by all the teams to have more of a home team broadcast. It is even happening on a national scale especially in Canada.
Randy and I have several “Bosses” to answer to. We have our Owners, the Hockey Department, Comcast Sportsnet our Sharks Superiors and last and certainly not least the fans. I can tell you we both take that very seriously. We both take great pride in telling the story of the game.
The Sharks have never told me to say this or that or lie to the fans. The one thing they do stress is that the tone of my comments tend to get negative and I have to work to be more positive. That is a fair comment.
What was his proudest moment when he was coaching the Sharks?
I have had many wonderful moments as a member of the Sharks. Without a doubt though the best was beating Detroit in Game 7 with Jamie Baker’s goal. All those losses all those hours breaking down video and being away from my family seemed worth it at that moment.
These days though the best thing I have taken away from my coaching days is the relationships with all the wonderful people that played for the Sharks. I truly love, Dean Evason, Kelly Kisio. Rob Zettler, Jeff Hackett, Igor larionov, Ray Whitney, Jeff Odgers, Pat Falloon, Arturs Irbe, Jeff Norton et all. I could name anybody that has played for me and praise them for their character and willingness to give everything they had to make the team better.
I’ll be sure to poke a little harder next time, because we want to know what are in those locker rooms!
*Blades of Teal: The Final Word On San Jose Sharks Hockey