This past summer, the Buffalo Sabres signed defensive prospect Doug Janik to his first pro contract. Janik, a 2nd round pick of the Sabres in ’99, played in the U.S. national program before attending the University of Maine for 3 years. He is currently playing for the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
I had a chance to speak with Doug following Rochester’s 12/14 game vs. Cleveland. The following is a transcript of that conversation, with “HF” representing yours truly, and “DJ” being Mr. Janik.
HF: Tonight’s game- frustrating. For 2 periods, you guys played pretty well, but you’re down 4-1.
DJ: Yeah, coming off last week, we hoped to have a little better effort and outcome than we had tonight, definitely. So, it’s a disappointing game for us.
HF: The whole season’s been like that, basically- getting some chances, but not burying the puck.
DJ: We had a lot of chances tonight; we also had some defensive breakdowns, and it’s just been kind of up and down like that all year.
HF: Personally, how do you feel you’ve progressed so far this season?
DJ: Not too bad. Just kind of learning as I go. The older guys and the coaches have been really good so far. I’m very appreciative of that, and I hope to just get better every day.
HF: You played at Maine the last 3 years, right?
HF: You left school early- do you think that was a good move? Was that something Buffalo wanted you to do?
DJ: Yeah, I think it was a good move for myself. As far as my time (at Maine), I had 3 good years there. I appreciated every day I was there, and all of the wonderful people there. I appreciated what they brought to my life very much, but it was time for me personally to move on.
HF: The differences between college and pro- a little faster or…
DJ: Yeah, there’s a different type of speed. The college game is up and down pretty fast, but here, people make plays faster, and the players are obviously a bit older and a little bit stronger.
HF: What veteran here has kind of taken you under his wing? Is it Doug Houda?
DJ: Yes, we started off the year playing together, and we sit near each other in the dressing room. He’s been really great for me- anything I want to know he’s always there and always trying to help out.
HF: Do you stay in touch with (former Buffalo draft pick) Barrett Heisten at all? Were you guys close friends?
DJ: Yeah, we played together in the national program, then 2 years at Maine together. I watched him a bit when he was with the Rangers, where he had a good start to the season. I think we play him…
HF: He’s in Hartford (AHL) now?
DJ: Yes, so I don’t know how long he’ll be down there, but hopefully I’ll get to see him the next time we play them.
HF: What do you think you’ve done well so far this year?
DJ: I’m just trying to come to the rink everyday and work hard, and just see that development in myself. Just try to reach a different comfort level out there, and just try to get better everyday. I think that’s the biggest thing.
HF: You’re probably going to be here for the whole season, I would imagine. I mean, you’re trying to get to Buffalo, of course, but I’d imagine the Sabres probably told you that this would be a development year.
DJ: Yes, that’s pretty much it.
HF: You’re from the Boston area?
DJ: Springfield, actually.
HF: You were pretty much a Bruins fan growing up?
HF: Who was your favorite player?
DJ: Ray Bourque.
HF: So, you were probably happy to see him finally get the Cup last year?
DJ: Yep, he certainly deserved it.
HF: Is that someone that you’ve patterned your play after?
DJ: No I don’t know, really, if there is a specific player that I’ve patterned my play after. I just go out there and try to be the best hockey player I can be, and not worry about trying to play like someone else.
HF: Would you say you are more of a defensive defenseman, or offensive, or well-rounded, maybe?
DJ: I’m certainly not an offensive guy like (Brian) Campbell or anything like that. I just try to play solid defense every night, and chip in a little offense when I can.
HF: Well, I’ll let you go here, Doug. Thanks for taking the time- I appreciate it. Nice meeting you.
DJ: OK, nice meeting you.