We are on the cusp of another hockey season for pretty much all players now. Except the NHL, of course. While the NHL and NHLPA are entangled in their complicated web of dollars, all other professional organizations are ramping it up and getting ready to press the GO TIME button. So we thought it made sense to check in once again with Todd Skirving, forward for Sioux Falls of the USHL. In our last interview with Todd, he walked us through his typical offseason, among a few other things. This time around we're talking about getting prepared for another season and some memorable games from past seasons.
A few of you have asked how we found Todd. Simple answer. We don't have any endorsement deals or any kind of contract with Todd. Our Marketing team simply found him on Twitter and sent him a DM! He was a willing participant and is clearly a well-spoken, intelligent kid. Here we go.....
Growing up, who was your favorite hockey player?
Growing up as a kid I would have to say my favorite hockey player would be our home town hero Patrick Sharp. During my childhood I've had the pleasure to watch "Sharpy" grow not only as a person but as a player when he suited up for the Thunder Bay Flyers of the USHL. I had the opportunity to get my picture taken with Patrick when I was 8 years old and that picture still hangs up on my wall with his autograph to this day. Ever since then he has become my role model and a hockey player I look up to. I am fortunate enough to train and skate with him during the off season every summer. Patrick is always quick to offer me advice both on and off the ice and pushes me to be my best. He carries himself very well and is always giving back to the community. He constantly makes time for others even through the busy schedule that every NHL player experiences. He is a true hockey leader who plays with passion and determination and I can’t think of another player I would want to pattern myself after.
Who was the biggest inspiration for you throughout your hockey career?
My biggest inspiration for me throughout my hockey career and to this day has been my parents. My Mom and Dad have been there for me since day one and have been by my side day after day through thick and thin. They aren't just my parents but they are my biggest supporters and motivators. They both have worked hard for me to strive to be my best whether it be as a hockey player or as a productive member in life. They've had their fair share of early mornings taking me to practice during my Midget AAA days where I played for the Thunder Bay Kings. All the miles driven and missed days of work really helped me to be where I am today. They have sacrificed many things for me and basically put me ahead of themselves. To this day I can't thank them enough for everything they have done for me. I am truly grateful to have the parents that I have. They care so much about my well-being and have put my dreams ahead of their own. I love them both very much and want them to know that I cherish all the little things and commitments they have made to me throughout my young life thus far.
Now that we're getting close to a new season, what changes for you in terms of physical preparation - and mental?
Now that we're into our main training camp the physical and mental preparation is different. You want to train and practice at a high intensity and simulate game speed as much as possible. You want to get out of summer mode and get back after it. It's a time to get yourself back into actual game speed. In the USHL teams are fortunate enough to have preseason games and also take part in the fall classic. Since I've trained all summer it makes it a great tool to see where I’ve brought my game to from the previous season. It's very important to utilize these efforts and mentally prepare myself for game days. In the summer I would physically and mentally prepare myself for workouts. Now that the season is close to getting underway, it's time to dial in on we’ve worked on in practices to prepare yourself for weekend games.
If someone was to offer you a vacation to any place in the whole world, where you want to go? ... And why?
If someone was to offer me a vacation to any place in the whole world I would want to take a visit to the beautiful country of Italy. Many reasons for this include the fact that my Moms side of the family mostly all lives in Europe. It would be great to experience their lifestyle and enjoy the different culture aspects of the Italians. I think it would be a treat to try out the different types of food of their culture compared to what we eat here in Canada. I'm fortunate enough to have my Nonna (grandma) make me some of her special Italian recipes which include spaghetti, cabbage rolls and lasagna. Most grandmas are amazing cooks, but with her I get to experience the great meals passed on to her from her family. I have an amazing Nonna who takes good care of my family and I at all times. She has always been there for me with both moral and financial support since I chose hockey as my preferred sport.
Most hockey players are aware that the locker room can be a place for fun and games some of the time. Have you witnessed any good pranks in the locker room during your career?
I have witnessed some good pranks in the locker room during my career and have been one of those guys that pull them. Most pranks are just for the excitement of all of the guys and some may be because of revenge due to previous pranks. Whether it's one or the other it's always in good fun and the guys always get a laugh from it. One good prank is semi cutting the guys' lace so when he goes to tie his skates up before practice the lace breaks forcing him to re-lace his skate. Another classic prank is the water in the shinpads. In most locker rooms, players put there shinpads on top of their stall. Since it is so high up the player can't see the full cup of water sitting in his shinpad and when he pulls it down the water dumps all over him. Recently a player on my team figured a way to put that cup of water inside the skate while it hangs upside down in our stall. That probably has to be one of the worst ones yet as you go on the ice with a skate soaked in water. You go to put your skate on and the water cup tips all inside your skate. As most people know, the equipment managers have free time periodically on their hands so you never want to mess with them or get on their bad side. We once showed up to the rink during the first few winter cold days to all the players equipment sitting in a cart soaked and somewhat frozen. It had been put in the shower and left out in the cold to freeze. You never want to mess the equipment guy as they will always get the last laugh! All in fun and definitely keeps everybody loose.
What was the most memorable game that you have ever played in?
Everyone has probably had some personal highlight nights and I'm sure most people can't say those would ever be more memorable than a championship. I did however win a city championship back in my 15 year old season with the Current River Comets, but I feel that winning the Kelowna International Major Midget Tournament in British Columbia and being crowned champions was probably one of my most memorable weeks during my 16 year old season. I played for the Thunder Bay Major Midget Kings program back in Thunder Bay, Ontario my 16 and 17 year old seasons. It was a weeklong tournament and definitely a grind. A lot had transpired throughout the week from flight delays forcing us to be late, almost landing on top of another plane, being frozen shut inside the shuttle bus, sleeping in airports, having a full out team brawl, and even missing a few more days of school than expected right before final exams for our first semester. It was a week where we had to come together as a unit in a very short period of time. You have to learn from your mistakes quickly and overcome the adversity. We lost our first game and then our second game in a shootout which led to a post-game handshake brawl against another Ontario team at the time No. 2 Hamilton Red Wings who we were battling with for No. 1 in the province. That point turned out to be huge. We played the next game short due to suspensions and we won the rest of our round robin games. Every team that needed to either lose or win did and we found ourselves in the semis finals against No. 3 in America Colorado ThunderBirds. We went onto win that game 3 to 1 and of course met the Ontario rival Hamilton Red Wings. We went on to beating them 4 to 1 in probably one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of. It wasn't so much a personal night, but more of a team night. It was something special with a great group of guys which brought us together down the stretch into our playoffs back home. It is something we still all talk about to this day and will down in the future. It's a great memory to look back on knowing how much went into winning a championship and all the grittiness that went into winning. The team will always have a special spot in my heart. I will never forget that group of players and coaches for as long as I live.