I caught up with Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson at the team’s practice facility earlier today, getting his thoughts on an array of topics…
RLD: How’s the summer going, you looking forward to get started again? Colin Wilson: Yeah. It was a pretty long off-season there… four months. It was great, I had lot of fun. Went back home and saw some people in Boston. After about a month off, I went straight back to training, and been going five times a week since then.
RLD: How often have you gotten on the ice this summer? Wilson: I was not on the ice until mid-July. From there on I was going three-to-five times a week.
RLD: Where does winning the national championship with Boston University rank in your hockey moments? Wilson: At the moment it’s number one I think, excitement wise, and the team bond we had was unbelievable. Obviously making the NHL and getting that first goal was great, but nothing is more exciting than winning something. I think until I win something at the next level is when that’s going to be able to top it.
RLD: When you were growing up, who did you emulate or style your game after? Wilson: I didn’t really focus on one player and think I’m going to play like him. I liked Jaromir Jagr and wanted to play like him even though I’m not like him. He uses his body, and I really try to focus on using my body like that. Aside from that, he is a little more skilled than me (laughs).
RLD: What do you like about playing in Nashville? It’s not like Toronto or Montreal where you’re noticed everywhere. Wilson: Yeah, I like that aspect of it. We still have great fans and everyone goes crazy at games. With that groin injury last year there was a lot of pressure on me already; if I was in Toronto, I’m sure the media would have been all over me, asking how it was every single day, and that’s not what I needed. As an up-and-comer I think this is a great spot to play in. That’s why you see players like Suter and Weber, and so many other guys from the draft playing here, because it’s not as high of pressure so they can adapt and get more confident.
RLD: With Jason Arnott leaving, you presumably have a bigger offensive role this season. Are you doing anything different this summer to prepare for a full season in the NHL? Wilson: Not really. I’ve been doing what I normally do. I’ve been trying to get faster since I was 15 so I do a lot of plyometrics there. Still trying to get faster and I can definitely feel it out on the ice. Aside from that, maybe doing a little more stretching and what-not because I ended up playing 83 games last year and it was quite the grind.
RLD: How were you able to battle through your groin injury last year, and was that kind of the breaking point for the rest of the season? Wilson: I think it definitely was. As soon as I started getting over that it definitely helped out quite a bit; I started playing my game and started to get more confident. I think also I kind of realized how mentally you can prepare for things. That groin injury was nagging me for most of the season, but I learned to play through it… and when I stopped focusing on it, that’s when I started playing better.
RLD: What do you take from your first playoff experience? Wilson: I think you realize you have to step your game up that much more. It was a completely different pace. Everybody was going 110 (percent). Regular season games are tough but people go that much harder (in the playoffs); they all step it up a notch. So it makes me realize I have to step up my game as well and get better.
RLD: What are your personal goals going into the year? Wilson: Improve everywhere. I just want to become a regular in the NHL; that’s kind of my main focus. I just want to contribute to the team. Obviously I want to contribute in goals and assists, because that’s been my game at every other level, so I just want to keep going with that, too.
RLD: What are your expectations for the team this year? Wilson: Pretty high. I think we have a great team, Pekka Rinne is unbelievable in net, our defense keeps getting better, and there were a few changes made at forward. I think that’s just going to make us that much better.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.