One of the more debonaire gentleman in the National Hockey League, Sir Calvin de Haan speaks like a poet. He is so proper, courteous, and polite. Good thing he’s not like that on the ice. The 12th overall selection by the New York Islanders in 2009—the same year his team chose now-captain John Tavares—de Haan is the diamond in the rough for the Long Islanders. This d-man is able to contribute both offensively and defensively, on both the power play and the penalty kill, and even scored a goal on this very night: 2/6/2014.
RK: What have you learned from the veteran D on the team?
CDH: I’ve learned to keep things simple, play my game, and try not to do too much. That’s basically it, and that’s the recipe for success. Sometimes less is more.
RK: How easy has the adjustment been from the AHL to the NHL, do you get better equipment, and what brand of hockey gear to you get to wear?
CDH: Down in the A[HL], you have to wear Reebok stuff; it’s a league-wide thing. Here, you can wear whatever. I prefer to wear Bauer. Here, everything is a little different. We travel by plane versus bus [in the AHL], we play games during the week versus in the AHL, the majority of the games are on weekends. The speed of the game has been the biggest transition on the ice; everything happens just a little bit faster up here.
RK: After your injuries of the past, how satisfying is it to finally get called up and be a difference-maker for the Islanders.
CDH: It feels great! Last year, especially, was a long year. I played a couple of games last year, and mentally it was depressing, almost. Well, I’m not saying it was depressing, but it was hard to battle through.
RK: My dad’s a psychiatrist; I can completely understand.
CDH: Oh, good, haha! But, yeah, as the months went on and I was cleared to do more. [I was able to] work out a little harder and use more weights, and do everything else like skating, shooting, stuff like that. Once I spent more time with the team, the transition was a lot easier. I had a big summer, and I’m here now. I’d like to think I’m helping the team win and it’s been fun so far.
RK: You’ve been called a “versatile” player, and someone to watch, who will blossom into one of the Islanders’ top defensemen. What’s that analysis mean to you?
CDH: It’s an honor! It’s cool to have fans and critics. The coaching staff pump me up, but at the same time, I have to be humble and keep doing what I do best. I can’t let my head grow too big with the diva stuff; I’m not like that to begin with, but it’s pretty cool to have nicknames like that and it’s a great honor.
RK: The PK has recently improved, but the PP still seems insecure. During the post-Penguins presser a couple weeks ago, coach said, “The guys were trying too hard and waiting for ‘the perfect play’ and waiting too long, over-thinking it. If you’re going to be successful on the PP, you move the puck and you shoot.” Is that a fair assessment or are those directions easier said than done?
CDH: It is a fair assessment, and I also do think it’s a bit of both. Sometimes just putting pucks on net in the power play is always a safe thing to do. It creates opportunities and scrambles. But at the same time, it’s easier said than done because sometimes things aren’t going your way on a given night, maybe you’re not getting the bounces. You could have four open nets in a game, but miss all four of them: that’s just hockey. On a power play, keeping things simple and putting pucks on net once in a while is not a bad thing.
RK: Do you guys have any side bets going on; Team Canada wins the Gold, you make Fransy wear a Canadian jersey?
CDH: Haha, that’s not up to me. I don’t bet on sports and stuff like that. Some guys might have some stuff, but I can’t really spill the beans on that. Me? Nah. I’m lookin’ forward to [the Olympics], though! It’ll be a good time. I love the Olympics; every sport is pretty cool to watch and it’ll be fun!