InGoal caught up with Ty Conklin before his recent demotion to the AHL, talking about everything from his Warrior equipment to what music he listens to and what is going through his head during the national anthem.
InGoal recently got the chance to sit down with affable Detroit Red Wings Goaltender Ty Conklin. That evening would see starter Jimmy Howard break a finger and the Wings bring Joey MacDonald up from Grand Rapids in the American League. Detroit gave MacDonald the chance to play right away and he ran with it, winning six in a row while compiling a 1.66 GAA and .934 save percentage.
When Howard was ready to return to the lineup Detroit General Manager Ken Holland made room for him by waiving Conklin, who struggled in the few appearances he was given this year.Conklin went 3-5-0 with a 3.40 goals-against average and .878 save percentage in his second stint with the Wings.
Not that Conklin would complain – he’s always been too much of a team-first guy to complain and would be the first to say he’s needed to play better this season – but it should be pointed out that for as much credit as MacDonald deserves for earning the No.2 job, Conklin never got a chance to keep it on home ice. Playing behind a Red Wings team that has set NHL records with 23-straight wins at Joe Louis Arena but continues to be average at best on the road, Conklin has yet to see a single minute of ice time at home this season. Not a single minute.
Every one of his 11 appearances – and it’s hard to stay sharp when that’s over four-plus months and includes two relief outing – has been on the road this season, where the Red Wings are a pedestrian 15-15-1 heading into Tuesday’s game in Chicago. And while it could be argued Conklin’s struggles play a role in that record, it’s equally fair to suggest the popular backup deserved a chance to build some badly needed momentum and confidence with an occasional outing behind a team that pledged going into the season to better defend its home turf.
“I think Ty Conklin needs to play,” Wings general manager Ken Holland told the team’s web site Monday. “He hasn’t really got it going. His starts have been sporadic and I think his play has probably been sporadic. He’s played some good games and played some games not so good.”
And with that we’ll get right to the questions including several from our readers.
~ Eric from Detroit asks: What have you picked up from Jimmy and what has he picked up from you?
“Well, hopefully Jimmy hasn’t picked up anything from me. I don’t think he needs anything from me. I’ll be honest, I always try to pick up things from guys I play with even guys I watch. I’m no different than anybody else. You have a pretty structured way on how you play – what’s gotten you to the NHL – but there’s always ways to improve. You see a strength in somebody you’re playing against or somebody you’re playing with and in Jimmy’s case I like his ready stance more than a lot of guys.”
~ InGoal follow-up: What do you like about it?
“Well, I just feel like he’s got his hands in front of him. He keeps his hands up really well. Better than most guys. I think that’s why you see him able to get to pucks just under the bar better than most guys.”
~ InGoal: That’s a big topic in the game this year, isn’t it? [note: see the article in the most recent issue of the InGoal Digital Magazine]
I think there’s a lot of different ways to play goal and no one way is the only way but the way I play, I feel like that’s something that I’ve tried – I like the way he does that. There’s other things in his game but that’s one of them – I like the way he keeps his hands up and it starts with a good ready position.
~ InGoal: Have you seen an evolution in his game since your first stop in Detroit?
You know, I wish I could tell you I have. I’ve seen the success and I’ve seen him mature certainly. That comes with experience obviously. You know I haven’t seen him day in and day out like a lot of guys have like [Detroit goaltending Coach] Jim Bedard but he’s become one of the top guys in the game. Certianly in my opinion and I think its becoming more of a common theme – he’s being spoken about as one of the better guys in the league.
~ Ryan from Toronto asks: How do you like the Warrior gear?
I like it. You know what? I think it’s a step up from last year’s stuff. This stuff is really good. A lot of the gear is similar. Obviously Vaughn is softer Reebok is a lot harder. I think these strike a good balance. They are pretty close to the Bauers especially in appearance. What I like about these is the guys will just make them how you want them made – if you want them stiffer in certain areas or stiffer right away.
~ InGoal follow-up: Have they made different pads for you to try?
No. This is the model I wanted. I like the flat front. My biggest thing is I like stiffness in the boot area and I like them to soften up a little bit.
~ InGoal: Is there anything that stands out compared to last year?
They’re light! They’re a different type of pad this year. The quality from pair to pair is better.
~ InGoal: Asked him about the non-standard lacing at top of his blocker….
Is it? To be honest I’m not overly particular. You like it the way you like it but I don’t nit-pick. I like the blockers really hard. I like the pads stiff in the boot.
~ InGoal: A couple more from the kids…
~ Dan from Minneapolis asks: What’s in the water bottle when you’re out there?
Water. Just water.
~ Chantal from California asks: What’s on your iPod?
I don’t have an iPod. I’ve got an iPhone – actually I don’t have an iPhone either anymore I got rid of my iPhone.
~ InGoal follow-up: So you’re not a music guy?
No, not really. Kids wouldn’t want to listen to the stuff I listen to – I mean it’s older stuff.
~ InGoal: What older stuff? – I’m older!
Um, Dire Straites – Mark Knopfler. I like a lot of Dave Matthews band.
~ John from Kitchener, Ontario asks: “What’s going through your head during the national anthem when you’re playing.”
Nothing really. Just trying to get calmed down. Trying to get ready.
~ InGoal follow up: Do you have a routine. Anything you try to think about?
Um yea. You have key phrases you say to yourself.
~ InGoal: What would be a key phrase?
Well – the first thing should always be “have fun.” It’s more fun to stop pucks than to let them in – but it should always be have fun.