Having interviewed New York Rangers’ prospect and current Connecticut Whale left-wing Devin DiDiomete two years ago, when I noticed that he was going to be immersing himself in the online phenomena known as Twitter, I asked if he would ever consider blogging. I told him that if he ever wanted to write anything and send it over, that I would publish it. Devin responded with, “I’m a character, not a writer. I’ve been out of school for too long.” but told me that he would answer any questions I had for him. We talked about trying something a little bit different, with not your usual boring questions that can only garner standard responses. These are only a few questions because this is just the first installment of “Devin’s Den”. We will be getting together again in a few weeks for a second one, and hopefully we can do a third one over the summer.
Devin is the type of player you would classify as the dictionary definition of “fan favorite”. All Whale season ticket holders are nodding their heads reading this, and a few told me after I said I would be doing this series with Devin that he is one of the nicest players you could ever meet. But on the ice, his smile and handshake turns into a snarl and a punch in the face. In 62 games this season, he has racked up 296 penalty minutes, his career high in any league (you can view some of his fights here). He also has six goals, which leads me to compare him to current Rangers’ forward Brandon Prust, as the player who may not be the biggest, but he’ll fight anyone in the league, and even chip in a goal every now and then. While playing for the Charlotte Checkers in 2009/10 for the ECHL on a brief stint, Devin somehow managed to get 128 penalty minutes in just 15 games (next time, I’ll have to ask him how he accomplished such a feat!).
Since 2004/05, Devin has been playing professional hockey. He started out with four seasons in the OHL, playing alongside current Rangers Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh for the Sudbury Wolves, and Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos for the Sarnia Sting. We can only hope that Devin will be playing in New York Ranger blue next season, to join his old teammates on the greatest stage of all.
Favorite movie? Old School
Favorite TV show? Entourage
Favorite food? Steak with mushrooms and spinach
Favorite player growing up? Steve Yzerman
Favorite team? Toronto Blue Jays
Favorite hobby? Working on my wash board (laughs)
Q & A
GC: I’ve heard from many Hartford season ticket holders that you are a funny guy. What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you as a professional hockey player?
DD: Over the past couple of years, I have got the label of being a prankster; always hiding guys shoes, clothes, taping wallets and keys together with pounds of tape, sewing guys pant legs together, cutting guys sticks before practice so it breaks on their first shot—but someone this year is beating me at my own game. For the last month, at least once a week, my one shoe and one sock go missing. [My teammates] always manage to come up with better hiding spots than me, so they go missing for days on end. Needless to say, I’ve had to walk out of the rink in two different shoes a few times this past month.
GC: Another thing I have heard is that you are very personable with fans. Obviously some players are not, so how do you feel players should treat the fans? How would you describe Hartford fans?
DD: I appreciate all the support my fans give me, so I feel the least I can do is give them a little bit of my time or sign some autographs for them. I always remember going to games growing up and being so pumped to talk to players or get a fist pump from them on the way out to the ice. I want to try to bring some of that excitement to all my fans.
GC: Being a heavyweight fighter, what are your keys to success for winning a fight? Do you have any safety tips for young players who may want to begin fighting?
DD: I would say I am more of a pest than a heavyweight fighter. I love feeling when I get under someone’s skin so bad that they want to rip my head off—it means I’ve done my job and they are more worried about me than our more skilled guys. As far as tips go to the young guys out there, hit the other guy more than he hits you. When in doubt, knock ’em out and ask questions later.
GC: I have to ask this because there seems to be a lot of fans on both sides of this. What name is better, Whale or Wolfpack?
DD: (laughs) I don’t want to answer that question. Some people have taken the name change to heart, but I will tell you one thing: the new jerseys look a lot better!
GC: With all this talk about head shots in hockey swirling around, what are your thoughts on the subject?
DD: I like what they are doing. I don’t think there is a place in hockey for the dirty elbows and dirty shoulders to guys’ jaws. Concussions are a serious issue and each year it seems like more and more guys are missing time due to dirty hits. If they take the instigator rule out of the game, I bet you would see a lot less cowardly plays because it forces guys to stay honest and they might think twice before doing something dirty or cheap.
Devin also had some kind words to offer for Connecticut Whale defenseman Wade Redden:
DD: I have nothing but good things to say about [Wade]. I’m sure he would much rather be in New York, but I think everyone here wants that. He has impressed me with his good attitude and work ethic. He’s a great role model for the younger defensemen and a great leader in the locker room. Having played almost a thousand NHL games, he brings much needed experience and leadership and I think he has done a great job of staying positive throughout this season.
I would like to thank Devin for taking the time out of his busy schedule to contribute to my blog. This is definitely one of the most interesting hockey interviews I have ever conducted (right up their with the Dale Weise one last season, when we ended up talking about Farmville), because it is not your typical “blah blah blah” responses. Make sure to look out for our next edition, coming out in a few weeks! And make sure to follow him on Twitter if you haven’t already clicked the link @deeds2424. He is new to this so take it easy on him!
UPDATE: Read Vol. 2 of “Devin’s Den” here.