Matt Stajan Interview. Biosteel Part 2
Who among us can recall a young Matt Stajan getting rocked Scott Stevens- style while hitting the attacking zone by Dennis Wideman in 2008,
moments before he was slated to do a first intermission interview with Hockey Night in Canada?
Still grimacing from the impact, the young centre went ahead with the interview, taking accountability for not having his head up on the play. What struck me about his willingness to go on camera while still clearly shaken from the blow, was just how much of a character-first, stand-up guy Matt Stajan was in Toronto, and continues to be, now for the Calgary Flames. You simply have to respect that kind of fortitude.
The former Leaf pivot was gracious with his time during the BioSteel Camp, and WWAC was pleased to catch up with the Mississauga native as he prepares for a rebound year in Alberta.
Converging on a secure, private training facility just outside of Toronto, Stajan spent his summer ramping up for the new season in some pretty elite company:
“I think its great, being from the GTA we get a lot of NHL guys here in the summer, so not only do we get to train with each other throughout the summer and run into each other on a daily basis, you know, once August hits and we start skating, it’s definitely an advantage for all of us to get on the ice and skate together and keep the pace and intensity up in a way that you might not be able to if you didn’t have so many elite level players in your area, so what we’re doing here with BioSteel week is putting it all together, and the guys running it certainly do a great job, so we’ll continue to work hard and enjoy the company, and the opportunity to play with guys you don’t always get to play with”.
For players looking to maintain peak-performance levels, there’s really no such thing as an off season, but the right combination of proper training, nutrition, and supplementing/replenishing makes all the difference for the pros:
“The whole summer we work out - you know, most of the second group that I’m in - we’re training with Matty all summer, and as you get older you become more knowledgeable about everything. You learn about how to eat properly, and when you should eat, also how to recover and refuel your body, so now with the BioSteel supplements becoming a key factor for us in our training and our diets, it makes things easier for us and it helps our bodies refuel and feel better a lot quicker”.
The demands of pro sports are not all physical. Lack of sleep, constant time-zone re-calibration, and general wear and tear can leave even the toughest in the game mentally exhausted. Matt acknowledges the link between the two:
“Physically, you wanna feel the best that you can and mentally you have to feel great, you know, that’s probably even more important than the physical aspect, so if you’re feeling great physically, mentally, it comes easy… you know that you’re doing the right things when you have the right mindset. I think it makes everything around you a lot easier with your training and going into the next hockey season as you should be - confident, and feeling great”.
If the threat of a lockout is weighing on the veteran centre’s mind, he’s sporting a hell of a poker face. For Stajan, it’s all nose to the proverbial grindstone despite the looming threat of an abbreviated season:
“I think right now we’re just focusing as if were gonna be playing on time, you know, business as usual… when it happens you deal with it, but obviously we gotta keep up and be ready for when something does happen, but that’s something that will get taken care of and we gotta make sure we’re all in shape and doing what we need to do to be ready”.
The former Leaf acknowledges there are challenges ahead with the Flames organization looking to rise from the ashes of a few dismal seasons, and remains optimistic that better days are ahead, sooner than later:
“I think we’ll be good… we have an eager group and I think we have a lot to prove. I know we’re getting a lot of slack and we have a lot of doubters out there, but as a team, we have a lot of veteran guys who want to prove people wrong, you know, and we’ve got a new coaching staff coming in and I’m sure there’ll be a new system in place. It’s a new start and there’s a lot of excitement around the guys I’ve talked to and been with, and were hoping to get to work as quick as we can and get to what we wanna do”.
While his may not be the first name that comes out of your mouth when discussing goal-scorers, where Stajan is a respected leader is in his ability to provide a team with safe, reliable minutes and a touch of secondary offense. He’s a very coachable, character-first foot soldier and an excellent teammate with a great head on his shoulders. Every team needs these guys. Thanks to Matt for a great interview…