I spoke with former Little Falls/St. Cloud State forward Ben Hanowski on Tuesday night. Hanowski is in Calgary working out in preparation for the 2013-14 season.
His experience with dealing with the flood that Calgary has suffered will be the focus of my column on Friday.
On the hockey side of it, it was interesting to hear Hanowski’s perspective on his five-game stint in the NHL at the end of last season. Even though hockey has become his profession, Hanowski said he wants the fun to remain part of the game he has played most of his life.
“It’s a different animal than college,” he said. “It’s a business and you have to invest in your career. But you don’t ever want to say that it is your job. ”You can’t forget that it’s a game. In the summer, you train and when the season comes around, you play. It’s a little more serious and you’re monitoring more of what you’re putting into your body.
“But I always liked training and working hard in the summer.”
Like everyone, Hanowski said that the NHL has bigger, stronger and faster players than in college. But there are other differences.
“They’re mature men playing in the NHL and they don’t make a lot of mistakes,” he said. “They’re smart with the puck, they finish the check. It’s a little more structured and not as aggressive as college.
“In college, there’s kind of an all-out push the pace for two nights and then you get a week off. You’re not able to go like that when you’re playing 3-4 games in a week.
“But I would say overall, the hockey IQ of players is just incredible.”
The Flames, of course, did not make the NHL playoffs, so Hanowski did not get a chance to experience that. Even if the Flames had qualified, Hanowski signed too late to be eligible to play in the NHL playoffs.
But Hanowski’s sense of humor remains intact. Drew LeBlanc told me that he had planned to live with and work out with Hanowski for the majority of the summer at the Minnesota Hockey Camps near Brainerd. Hanowski decided to start his summer by working out in Calgary with other Flames prospects, go to development camp and then go to the MHC.
“I told (LeBlanc) that I needed to get a break from him, so I will go see him after development camp,” Hanowski deadpanned.
On a side note, it will be interesting to find out if LeBlanc will get a day with the Stanley Cup and get a championship ring now that the Chicago Blackhawks have won the title. If he does, how about this for a season: WCHA Player of the Year, WCHA Student-Athlete of the Year, Hobey Baker award, bronze medal playing for Team USA in the World Championships and a Stanley Cup ring. Yeah, that would be a tough season to top.