This morning I had the chance to speak with Cedrick Desjardins of the Hamilton Bulldogs at Copps Coliseum. He was kind enough to answer all of my questions, despite being put on short notice. Cedrick played Major Junior hockey in Rimouski for 3 years before being traded to the Quebec Remparts in his final year of junior. He was not drafted, but was signed by the Montreal Canadiens and sent to their ECHL affiliate the Cincinnati Cyclones. With the injury to Cristobal Huet, Jaroslav Halak was called up, which prompted Cedrick to be called up to the Bulldogs. In 10 games so far this year in the ECHL he has posted a 6-3-1 record with a 2.01 goals against average, and a .924 save percentage. I would like to thank Derek Wills, the Director of Broadcasting and Communications and Play-By-Play Announcer of the Hamilton Bulldogs for helping me set up this interview, it is much appreciated.
Greg: Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstitions before a game?
Cedrick: The past four or five years I've started the same, doing my sticks and stuff, and playing with a bouncing ball. I'll do stretching, I'll pretty much do it the same way. I've got a ritual before every game, like the day before I'll take a nap and the same day too. Pretty much the same way (every game).
Greg: Do you remember your first AHL game, and what was that experience like?
Cedrick: My first AHL game was last year when I got called up here (Hamilton), I played a couple of games in exhibition, but my first real AHL game was in February of last year, we were down in Syracuse.
Greg: You played with Sidney Crosby in Rimouski, he certainly brought a lot of attention to the team, what was that like?
Cedrick: We were excited because everywhere we were going was a sold out crowd, and he was a great guy. He wasn't selfish at all. After games he'd have thousands of people waiting for him, and it was like he had a security guard only for him. On the bus we'd be eating our little chicken, and he'd be signing autographs. Good memories about him. He was always a great guy, and it was a pleasure to play with him.
Greg: In your last year of Major Junior hockey you got traded from Rimouski to Quebec, was that a difficult adjustment for you?
Cedrick: It's always difficult the first time you get traded, I had tons of friends in Rimouski, I had a lot of friends there. It wasn't too bad though, they were two great organizations, so I didn't feel lost by that, but it's different. You have to build new friendships, same for your teammates. I didn't know anyone in Quebec, I only played with a couple of guys before. You have to meet different guys, meet a different coach. They trade for you because they want you and they trust you, so you have to prove to them as well. There was a little bit of pressure that I put on myself, but yeah that's the way it is.
Greg: Do you still keep in touch with any of the guys you played with in Rimouski?
Cedrick: Yeah, a couple of guys. A lot of the guys are playing pro right now, so sometimes we'll just shake hands, have a couple of pops. If they're available in the summer, I'll skate with a couple of guys who I played with in junior. It's always good memories in juniors.
Greg: Which former teammate or coach has helped you the most so far in your career?
Cedrick: I learned a lot in junior when I was with Rimouski because I had a great coach there, atmosphere and family, it was great. It was the same when I was in Quebec, I had a great goalie coach there, and of course my coach was Patrick Roy, he was also a good helper. Everything in Rimouski helped me to be a better goaltender, and when I came to Quebec it was a good step to help me be ready to go to the pros.
Greg: Besides hockey, did you play any other sports growing up?
Cedrick: I always played tons of sports, but the main ones were Baseball and Golf. They were my favourite in the summer. Those were pretty much the sports I was playing in the summer time, but in the winter it was always hockey. I didn't snowboard or anything, it was only hockey.
Greg: Did you always want to be a goaltender, ever since you were little?
Cedrick: I was a player until, like, Atom? We didn't have any goaltenders in our district, so I asked my Dad if I would be able to be a goalie. He wasn't very happy, he told me that I had great skills to be a player, he always wanted me to be a player, but he accepted it, he accepted my choice and he's pretty proud of it now.
Greg: You obviously made a good choice.
Cedrick: Yeah, exactly (Laughs)
Greg: When did you realize that you had a shot at playing professionally?
Cedrick: I was a little disappointed to not be drafted, so I kinda thought that I may need to go to school, I might have to deal with that and get a job, just play hockey for fun. After that I was struggling a little bit, but I had a great year in Rimouski, a great end of the year in Rimouski, then I had a great year in Quebec. I think hockey is just a passion for me and my family, so I didn't want to quit because I still had a chance to go to a higher level. They gave me a chance with a contract here in Montreal, and I'm waiting. Everything is so far so good right now in pro, so I try to take it one step at a time. I'll take my chances, perhaps I'll be able to get there.
Greg: What's your opinion on making nets bigger to increase scoring?
Cedrick: I don't think we're playing soccer. You can change the rules about holding and interference and stuff, that's good because it'll make the guys play faster, and when they play faster I think I'm the kind of goalie who's able to adjust to that easily. You can try to change the equipment on the goalie instead, but make sure his security (safety) is still good. I tried it at rookie camp with Montreal, in Toronto, and they had the bigger nets but the scores were still, like 3-1, 2-1, so it wasn't a big difference. They were a little bit bigger, but it didn't change it that much. There are a lot of other things you can do to change the game, but you can't touch the base of the game really.
Greg: Who is the funniest guy off the ice that you have ever played with?
Cedrick: The funniest guy... (thinks). It depends, I remember many funny parts, but the funniest guy...
Greg: Too many to name?
Cedrick:Yeah, all guys have their own humour, but I know J.P Cote here is a funny guy, I like him. I'm always training with him and he always has this big smile, and always has the little jokes to make you happy in the morning. Those kinds of guys I like, from here. When you're in the locker room a lot of guys have their own humour that make everyone happy, so yeah, that's pretty much it.
Greg: Is there any significance behind your number?
Cedrick: Yeah, but not the one here. The number I always have is 30, it's my birthday, and 3 is kind of my lucky number, so that's pretty much the reason why.
Greg: Who was your favourite player growing up?
Cedrick: I was a Nordique fan, so Joe Sakic as a forward was one of the guys I looked up to, and Gretzky and all those guys. As a goalie I was a little bit of a fan of Patrick Roy and a couple of other French guys like Brodeur or Luongo, those kind of guys. Pretty much all of the French guys that are in the NHL right now and are doing pretty good. It's pretty much like they are my mentors to get better, because those guys are able to do it.
Greg: What do you do in the offseason to prepare for the next season?
Cedrick: Training. Now guys, especially goalies, most of them are European guys and they are in really, really good shape. You need to increase your power, especially in your legs. You have to do a lot of footwork, a lot of squats to get your power and your strength to be ready for the season. Especially to get less injuries during the year. After the season I usually take one month off pretty much, but after that it'll be two or three months of training, so it's pretty intense.
Greg: What do you do in your spare time in the offseason?
Cedrick: I try to go out with my buddies that I haven't seen for a while. When the season starts we are so busy, sometimes I'll be able to call them but I'll never have time to go back home and see them, so the month off I have is to pretty much see everybody, family, friends, old teammates, go to a couple of parties and stuff and just hang out with them, so it's good.
Greg: Thank you very much for doing this!
Cedrick: No problem, my pleasure.
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