DU Recruit Jason Zucker Q & A In McKeens

(above) DU recruit Jason Zucker will join the Pioneers next season

From: McKeens.com
(read entire interview)
by Kevin Wey

McKeen's: How would you say 2009-10 has gone for Jason Zucker so far?

Zucker: I think it's been great for me. I've had a ton luck. I've had great teammates, a great coaching staff here at the USNDT. This team that we have here, it's full of great character guys in the locker room and everything. It's been a lot of fun. We're looking forward to going to the Under-18 tournament this year with this great team and hoping to win another medal there.

McKeen's: With the Under-18 tournament, since you played in it last year, this is your second go-round with it. So, what are your expectations going into it?

Zucker: We've just got to go and do everything we can to win. We're a great team here, and we have great guys, we have a great coaching staff, a great support staff. From Scott Monaghan, through Kurt Kleinendorst, to our intern coach Cole Bassett. We have everybody, trainers, equipment managers and all that supporting us with everything we need. We're just going to go there and do the best we can and hopefully come away with a gold medal.

McKeen's: In your time with the program, what do you feel are the areas of your game that have improved the most and how?

Zucker: I think everything aspect of my game has gotten better, from shooting, to skating to overall defensive zone and coverage, to offensive zone, everything. Every guy here develops each and every day. We practice, we lift, and we do all these games and everything, and we develop every day and become better players for it.

McKeen's: That's kind of the goal of the program, for you guys to improve at everything.

Zucker: Exactly.

McKeen's: Similarly, what are the areas of your game that you feel you need to improve on the most continuing forward to take your game to the next level?

Zucker: I think I need to work on quite a bit of things. Everybody can work on things to get better. I think I can work on my shooting, my passing, my skating, offensive zone, defensive coverage. Every bit of my game, I can work on. There's not one thing I can just point out, because in order to play at the level, you have to be a complete player, and I need to work on my complete game each and every day.

McKeen's: On the other hand, for someone who's never seen you play, which shouldn't be too many people around hockey, what would you say are the strengths of your game and the style that you play?

Zucker: I think I'm a gritty player. I can score goals, but I'm going to go into the corner and hit and can take a hit. I'm not going to back down to anything. I'm going to do anything for my team to win. I'm the guy that hates losing, just like most people, so I'll do anything in my power to make sure we win the game.

McKeen's: You're committed to the University of Denver. Going back to the beginning of that whole process, when did colleges first start contacting you and, if I may ask, who were you considering toward the end, and what made you pick DU?

Zucker: Well, they first started talking to me when I got to Compuware. I played for Detroit Compuware my midget year, and that's when they first started talking to me. So, you know? It was a long process. I had a bunch of great schools talking to me. It was probably one of the hardest decisions of my life. Denver's a great school, they have a great coaching staff and everything, and it was a little bit closer to home, which is good. They have a great hockey tradition with all the national championships they have, and I'm looking forward to getting started there next year.

McKeen's: You're going to go someplace reasonably early in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, and so there may be a little pressure for you to go the major junior route? Would you consider going the major junior route?

Zucker: I mean, I've considered it. A great organization, Seattle, has my rights. But, right now, I'm definitely going to Denver University. The NHL Draft is in the back of my head, but it's not something I need to worry about right now. I need to worry about Under-18's with this team and each and every game heading up to it. So, the draft is just a byproduct of how I play.

McKeen's: Absolutely. A player of your stature often has, in your case, a family advisor. So, do you have representation and, if so, may I ask whom?

Zucker: Yes, I do. Chris Lepkowski and Rich Evans with the Points West organization. They're a great supporter for me, and they're good friends with my family. So, they try to do everything can to help me get to the next level.

McKeen's: How often do they keep in contact with you and what have they been saying lately?

Zucker: They keep in contact weekly. They really just talk about the next game, focus on the next game and getting better each and every day, because, once again, how I play now is the byproduct of how the NHL Draft goes and how next year will work out and Under-18's as well.

McKeen's: I know my next question is not on your immediate radar, but I'm certain you will be one of the players invited to the NHL Combine. Do you anticipate a point in the future after the Under-18's where you'll start training in particular for that and what are your expectations for the Combine?

Zucker: If I'm lucky enough to get invited to go, I think we here at the program are pretty well prepared with our great strength and conditioning coach, Darryl Nelson. There's not many things that he doesn't work on with us. So, we've got to go perform how we can and do our best there as well. We get great training working with Darryl there. I think we should be fine.

McKeen's: I know you said the draft is kind of on the back burner, but what are your expectations and is there a point, a range that you've set as a goal where you'd like to go?

Zucker: Well, I really have no expectations for the draft, because with the ratings that come out, they really don't mean anything, because they don't know what the NHL teams are thinking. So, every kid hopes to go in the first round, and, of course, that's been my dream. But, I really can't expect my self to go there. I can't expect myself to go at all. If I'm lucky enough to get drafted, then I'm lucky enough to get drafted.

McKeen's: I'm sure you'll be drafted somewhere, somewhere reasonably early. It'll be interesting to see where. Going back to the beginning of your hockey career, when did you first start playing and how did you get that start?

Zucker: I started playing when I was two and a half years old. My brother Evan got me started in roller hockey. So, I played roller hockey for quite a few years, and I still play. Every summer I play. So, that's where I got started, and I got started up in ice when I was five, and I've been going from there (Read entire interview @ McKeens.com).


vizoroo said...

Zucker seems to have his head together and committed to DU next year. He was fun to watch in the U18s and the WJC. Speedy and Gritty.

750 miles from Las Vegas to Denver. Compared to the almost 2000miles to Ann Arbor, its almost like playing at home.

Aluuum said...

Read thishes interview: two years at the most and he's gone.

Aluuum said...


msbdu said...

I am so tired of this 2 years and out from these recruits. So two years the player begins to get adjusted to college hockey and they are gone. Is it worth it? I am not so sure.

Aluuum said...

me neither

dggoddard said...

You can't have it both ways. If you want to see Denver competing for National Championships, elite teams like BC in Magness Arena and future Pioneers playing in the NHL, this is the trade-off.

DU has only had two players in its 60 year history drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft. The 2010 recruiting class has three guys mentioned as possible 1st round picks (Bennett, Zucker & N. Shore ['11]).

To compete in the oversaturated Denver sports marketplace, DU needs to be winning and have "stars" on the roster.

Anonymous said...

With the 2 maybe 3 guys leaving early who had scholarships I assume we have roster spots to fill. Do we fill the spots now with a few more new recruits or can we save the scolarships for next year?

dggoddard said...

Its a longshot, but if Zucker and Bennett were taken in the 1st round this summer, there's a chance that recruits Nick Shore and Scott Mayfield could be first round draft picks in 2011.

DU could have four first round picks on the ice at the same time.

How many first round draft picks play for the Colorado Avalanche? Four. :-)


Anonymous said...

I consider DU and their fans pretty fortunate to get to see young stars. Do you want Gwoz to relinquish the recruiting advantage the program has earned? The reality of college hockey is that two year players are gonna happen. Deal with it and be thankful the program can attract such talent,because for the longest time it wasn't.