Florida Panthers: Interview with defenseman Aaron Ekblad


I sat down and chatted with Florida Panthers defenseman (Aaron Ekblad) to talk about hockey preparation, where he sees himself and the team being in five years time, as well as some personal life memories.

1. Aaron, you started the season off on the right foot, and have looked more poised and calm out there. What exactly have you done to prepare yourself accordingly?

"“Last year I had a few major injuries, so I changed the way I trained. I worked on my shoulders and my neck, and I did a little bit of fighting to improve my stability, as well as my neck and shoulders. Just trying to be a little more resilient when it comes to all of that.”"

2. Is there anything you’d like to add to your game, as well as improve on?

"“I wanna be a good strong defensive defenseman, while also adding a little bit of a scoring touch to my game. I’d like to be a little bit of a better passer, as well as being quicker on the ice. If I can improve on those two things, I can become a better player.”"

3. Last season was tough, and certainly was a learning experience for you and the team. What exactly did you learn from last season, and how has it shaped you into the player you are currently?

"“My first couple of years I thought things were pretty easy. Things were coming to me, I was a little bit more sheltered by playing more offensive minutes, instead of playing more defensive minutes. I was matching up against second and third lines, rather than first lines.“My third year I wasn’t sheltered as much, so I was thrown into the fire, and I also sustained a couple of injuries along the way. Last year was a tough year all around, and it made me a little more resilient. It allowed me to adjust to playing bigger and tougher minutes on both sides of the puck.“I also played against top lines, which is a different world when you’re matched up against top lines, and in reality, I thought I needed a year to adjust, and that was my adjustment year. I feel I’ve been able to come out fully prepared when matched against top lines.”"

4. Which player are you most close with on the Florida Panthers currently? Who do you spend the most time with from the team?

"“Because most of the guys are hanging out with their girlfriends and wives, I usually hang out with Alex Petrovic [who’s single]. We have the chance to go out and go for dinner.”"

5. Who would you say is the best player on the Panthers currently? Also, who is your favorite?

"“Well I love Keith Yandle, so on the back end I’m going to say Keith Yandle. He’s my defensive partner, and a guy I look to for advice. And on the front end I would say Aleksander Barkov, which I’m sure anybody would say.”"

6. I’ve heard that you once broke your brother’s toe while playing hockey in the basement. What exactly happened and went down?

"“We were making really hard passes at each other and we were just taking it to that level of degree, and I kinda of let a wild one go which hit his toe. Pretty stupid on my part, but he was fine. It was just his toe, long ways away from his heart.”"

7. What’s the most memorable goal you’ve scored in your hockey career?

"“I guess I would have to say my first NHL goal, which would be my most memorable goal in my career. It wasn’t the most important goal, but it’s something I’ll always look back on and enjoy.”"

8. In five years from now… where do you see yourself being among defensemen in the NHL?

"“I guess if you’re setting lofty goals, which is exactly what you want to be doing in the NHL, you want to be able to set high goals and hope for the best, and work to be the best.“I obviously want to be the best defenseman in the world, as well as be top goal scorer, top point getter, and a good reliable defensive defenseman. I wanna have an all around game. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but it’s what I’m going to work forward to.”"

9. What’s the fondest life lesson you’ve learned from family, coaches, or friends?

"“So my agent [Bobby Orr] actually brought all of us young guys to his Orr Hockey Group Agency Camp when we were younger, and he actually sat us all down at one point.“He spoke about passion and how passion should play a role in absolutely every part of your life. That lesson is probably one of the things that I’ve kept close with me throughout my hockey career.”"

10. In five years from now… where do you envision the Florida Panthers being?

"“Five years from now, we want to see a culture of winning, and see not one player satisfied with a loss ever. We want to see a Stanley Cup in this dressing room, and we want to see a team which is all about winning. One that wants to be a winning team.”"

Next: Evolution of the enforcer role

Big thanks to Thomas Drance who set this up and made this all possible. And to Aaron, thank you for taking the time out of your day to answer some of our questions!