It's the best time of year!
I had a chance to chat with Nashville Predators defenseman Jonathon Blum on Tuesday and get his take on his first postseason, California hockey success and Twitter.
RLD: First off, how was your summer?
Jonathon Blum: It was good. I spent a month back home in Southern California; it was nice to see family and friends and sleep in my own bed that I grew up in. I spent the rest of the summer in Vancouver, training up there and stuff like that. I had a couple golf trips as well. I hung out with the guys and my girlfriend. We have a dog, and he takes up a lot of time. It was a productive summer.
What did you take away from your first playoff experience?
It was a great time for me to get called up and get that experience. I played the last 23 games of the season, and every game was like a playoff game. The playoffs are a whole different level. You think the NHL can’t get any better, but it does during the playoffs. Every guy steps up and plays hard. That’s what I learned – you have to play hard every shift. Everything’s magnified by that much more because every game is crucial in the playoffs.
A lot of rookie defensemen in the playoffs get flustered, but you didn’t. How come?
I think that’s just who I am. I might have been a little too casual at times, but that’s the composure I have and just the level I play at. I don’t want to get too caught up in the moment and panic and let things get to me. As a young defenseman, I was playing pretty good minutes and playing against the opponent’s top lines at times. It was a good experience and I hope to carryover that success.
Was there any moment last year where it really hit you that you were playing in the NHL?
I’d probably say when I was playing Chicago in my second game. That was kind of when I was called up and we were playing the defending Stanley Cup champs with a great lineup. It was a good eye-opener, especially with it being my first game at home. I ended up playing 20 minutes that night, the most I’d ever played. So it was a pretty cool experience to play those guys.
Being an early cut last fall in training camp, did you have a chip on your shoulder going back to Milwaukee?
Yeah, definitely. It was pretty hard to take – I was upset about it. In the end, I knew they had seven defensemen with one-way contracts, but still – to be cut in the first cuts for Milwaukee, it was a hard thing to take. But I got there and got better. I worked hard and played a lot of minutes. I think that really prepared me for that jump to play in the last little bit of the season and the playoffs.
What’s it like to play in front of a goalie like ‘Peks’?
It helps for sure, because when you get beat he’s always there to stop the puck. He’s just so calm and confident. When he’s like that, it makes us – especially the young guys – that much more calm. When you break up a play in front of him, he’ll yell ‘Good job Blummer.’ That kind of stuff really helps mentally.
Was there any veteran in this locker room that kind of took you under his wing after you got called up in the spring?
I spent a lot of time with [Shea] Weber, [Cody] Franson and [Kevin] Klein. We went to pre-game all the time together. On our off days, Franson, Weber and I would always do lunch. Since I was staying at a hotel for two or three months, Shea always invited me over to his house and we’d play video games and have some dinner. That was cool for him to go out of his way and get me out of the hotel and have a home-cooked meal.
Being a California native, how cool is it to see a lot of other kids from California get drafted so early recently?
Yeah, there’s a new wave of kids. The kids a couple years younger than me are starting to get drafted high; a couple first-rounders two years ago. We even drafted two other California kids, so there’s three of us on the team now. It’s just cool to see. You look back to the last couple drafts, the numbers are getting bigger and bigger out of California. It’s always guys from Michigan, New York – guys on the east coast that are the high-end draft picks. California is really starting to make a name for itself.
What do you enjoy most about being on Twitter?
Just interacting. It’s cool to see what the fans have to say about the guys, and inform them of what’s going on and give a little background of the team because they come out and support us. It’s nice for them to interact with some of the players – if it’s talking to them or meeting them, it’s a pretty cool thing these days. There’s also a lot of information on Twitter, so it’s cool to be on it.
Are there any teammates you’re trying to recruit to get on Twitter?
Well I know Roman Josi has it, but he doesn’t use it at all! There’s some people that want him to start using it, including myself. I’m still trying to get him to do it. I haven’t really recruited anyone lately, but [Taylor] Beck and [Michael] Latta and all those guys are really starting to use it. I know they’re getting a lot of followers just by being up here.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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