Before traveling to Boston to take on arch-rival Hahvahd, men’s hockey senior co-captain Matt Moulson tried to sneak a few wristers past Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman.
1. How happy are you now that the NHL is back in business?
Oh, very happy. I finally have something to watch on TV again. Obviously, it’s good from a hockey standpoint. The league looked pretty bad there for a couple months – it looked like they weren’t going to get anything done. But it’s nice to see that there’ll be some jobs opening up.
You’re from Ontario. Explain to the kids who aren’t from Boston, New York, Chicago, or Detroit just how popular hockey is up north.
It’s just as important as you think. There are all those stereotypical comments, that all we have in Canada are lumberjacks and hockey players.
I think there are some curlers running around up there, too.
Haha. Yeah, and some curlers. But everyone loves hockey in Canada. I don’t know many people that didn’t play it at a young age. Everyone gets into it; it’s the thing to do. There’s nothing better than Saturday night – Hockey Night in Canada.
Wayne Gretzky really is a god, isn’t he?
2. Do you like the new NHL rule changes?
Yeah, actually. I originally thought that I wouldn’t because I was against the shootout. But now, I find myself cheering for a tie every time.
It’s exciting, isn’t it?
Oh, it’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen! I honestly didn’t want them to change it. I thought it would wreck the game, but now that I can watch hockey every day, I want to see it every time. Except when the Leafs play. I want them to win.
What about the other rules?
I think the tighter penalties are opening up the game a lot, especially offensively. And the two-line passing – I don’t know why they didn’t allow that earlier.
That was always the issue. Scoring is up now, the game flows better, and the TV ratings are climbing.
Yeah, and you get teams like the Ottawa Senators scoring eight or ten goals a game.
Didn’t they crush Buffalo by some ridiculous margin last week? Something like 10-2?
Yeah, it was 10-4. We’re seeing outrageous scores, like 8-1, 6-4, 10-0.
Do you think that these new rules and the added scoring are ultimately good for the league?
I think they still have some work to do, especially in creating loyalty with the American fans. Most of the teams are in the U.S., obviously. It’s a good start and it’s very exciting, but I think they can do more with marketing and things like that. Especially with the small-market teams.
Would you like to see these new rules trickle down into the college game?
I think it would be a good idea. I think the whole OHL [Ontario Hockey League] has switched to the NHL rules. All of the major junior leagues have switched. It makes the transition to the NHL that much easier, and that’s where all of us eventually want to play. I think they’ll slowly implement the new stuff into the college game.
3. Fighting is still illegal is college hockey. Should they change this? It’s part of the game everywhere else.
I think they should. Especially this year, you see a lot of scrums after the whistle and stuff. Every whistle in front of the net, there are guys pushing and shoving. It slows the game down. They’ve cut down on it recently, but usually what happens if you can’t fight is a lot more stickwork – slashing and hooking. I think it would be exciting to have a few fights in front of the Lynah crowd.
Oh, they’d love it. They’d riot. The roof would blow off.
I don’t know, I mean the college game is pretty good, but –
Let’s be clear, though. This isn’t a goon kind of thing. It’s not about goonery. We’re not talking about Tie Domi sucker-punching Gretzky.
It’s part of the game. When I watch hockey, I want to see some goals, some nice plays, and some fights. I think other players like to see them, too. It would cut down on those stupid scrums if the guys could just fight and get it over with. Maybe we could have a one-fight rule, or something.
Have you ever wanted to drop the gloves while playing here at Cornell?
Hahaha, probably a couple of times.
Any names you want to drop?
I can’t really think of any names. There have been a couple times when a guy has given me a cheap shot or something like that, and I felt like going after him. But you have to just suck it up.
Could you have taken him?
I’d like to think so, but the guys on the team would probably disagree.
Yeah, I could have taken him. Maybe I need to start out with some smaller guys to get my confidence up.
Yeah, with bullying, you want to start slow and work into it. How much harder is it to throw a punch on skates than on foot?
It’s a little harder. I’ve been in lacrosse fights, and it’s different. You have to have a lot better balance, and the other guy’s tugging on your sweater to try to pull you down.
4. You mentioned that you’re happy about jobs opening up in the NHL. You were drafted in the ninth round by the Penguins in 2003. Why did you stay in school?
Haha, well I didn’t really have an offer then.
Ah, so that made the decision pretty easy.
I suppose I technically could have come out.
So you only stayed because there wasn’t a solid offer?
I don’t want to say that, exactly. I mean, I came to Cornell to get a good education and win a national championship. And I didn’t have either at that point.
Wow, Cornell must love you. “I want to get a good education and win a national title, in that order.” You’re the poster boy. Do you think you can have success in the NHL?
I think I still have a lot of work to do, but I continue to work on the things I need to work on, I think I can play at that level.
I think you just set the record for using “work” in a sentence.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to win a Stanley Cup with Sidney in Pittsburgh.
Do you know Sidney Crosby?
No. But I’m talking about him like we’re best friends! You know, me and Sid.
So, it definitely looks like you’ll be playing for the Penguins if this happens?
Well, the way it works is that you have to sign a contract by August 15th after your senior year, or you become a free agent, so that’s actually really good for the college guys. But anything can happen. You never know.
What NHL player is your game patterned after?
I don’t really know. I’ve got a couple of favorite players out there. Joe Sakic and Markus Naslund.
You kind of look like Joe Sakic.
Yeah, I’ve gotten that before, actually. But I’m not sure who I’m like – guys that score a lot, have a good shot.
I love the modesty.
I wouldn’t compare myself to those guys, but they’re definitely who I try to be like.
5. Explain to me once and for all why it’s a hockey “sweater” and not a hockey “jersey.”
Both? Forgive me, I’m American. You’re going to have to explain this.
That’s a good question. I don’t really know.
What do you mean, you don’t know? Aren’t you from Canada? Don’t they tell you how to answer dumb hockey questions from Americans?
I don’t know! The only thing I can think of is –
Since there’s ice and it’s cold, it’s a sweater?
That could be. Maybe it’s because you’re out there, playing on the pond. You know, wearing a sweater. I remember all the kids would wear the sweaters to school, you know, just around. So it was just like a regular piece of clothing. I had a Gretzky sweater that I wore everywhere.
The Edmonton one, right?
No, actually it was the Kings.
Are you kidding? They’re not going to let you back into the country.
No, I had the Edmonton one, too.
You really had the Kings? Barry Melrose and his mullet, flowing in the wind?
Yeah, it’s good stuff.
6. You guys travel to Boston this weekend to
play Hahvahd. What’s the hardest arena to play in as a visitor?
Well, it’s not Harvard, because it’s mostly our own fans.
Yeah, that’s what makes it such a good trip. But the hardest arena to play in? I don’t know, I have to think here.
Go ahead. Take your time.
We seem to struggle at Dartmouth. Yeah, we struggle a lot in there. I don’t know if the fans are the most hostile, but –
What, do they throw sheep at you or something? Or is that Vermont?
No, nothing like that. They’re pretty loud though. Everyone gets excited to play us. It’s pretty hard to play on anyone’s rink.
Hockey fans are notoriously rabid and are seated right on top of the ice. What’s the the most offensive thing a fan’s ever yelled at you?
A lot of swear words.
Lots of the F-word, and “You Suck!” Oh, let me go back for a minute. The Colgate crowd is the toughest to play in front of. They like to swear a lot.
They’re just angry because their school is named after toothpaste.
Yeah, their student section is right behind our bench, so the like to give it to us pretty good through the glass and stuff, telling us how bad we are, things like that.
I remember when I was a freshman, we went out to Western Michigan. I got a penalty, and the crowd would go, “Matt!” They’d yell your name – no, one guy would yell your name, “Matt!” And then the crowd would go, “Matt!” And then they’d go, “YOU SUCK!” That’s pretty funny.
And terribly creative.
I don’t think I really hear many people yelling at me on the ice. Just our bench telling me to shoot on a power play. “SHOOT THE PUCK, MOULSON!”
7. Give me your favorite hockey movie.
It would have to be Slap Shot.
I knew you were going to say that.
Yeah, Youngblood is up there, but –
Wait, Youngblood? Rob Lowe is the worst hockey player in cinematic history, right?
Oh, he can’t even skate!
Do you guys sit around in the locker room saying things like, “hey, we’re puttin’ on the foil!”?
Yeah, a lot of Slap Shot quotes get thrown around in there. I don’t think it’s nearly as funny for people who don’t play hockey. My other friends that watched it just think it’s a really bad movie. It’s one of those acquired tastes. But it’s a classic.
8. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?
I have to go with the tennis team, man. My girlfriend’s on the tennis team.
Listen, man. I don’t care if your girlfriend’s on the tennis team. You can’t do this. I know you’re a big, tough hockey guy and you score a lot of goals, but I’m not afraid of you.
But I don’t see any of the other teams!
I’m not looking for individual hotness. I want hotness in total. I thought you said you’ve read this column before?
I mean, I –
Is the rest of her team hot?
Yeah, they’re all good-looking! The tennis team is a good-looking team.
Do you have a thing for skirts or something?
Yeah. I mean, I enjoy the skirts.
Have you seen the field hockey team? Or the lacrosse team? I guess those are kilts, but still.
Yeah, they’re good-looking too, but I think the tennis players are better.
Is there much tennis in Canada?
No, not much. Maybe that’s why I like them.
Well, there you go. Something new and different.
I’m sorry. I have to go with tennis. I’m a boring guy.
Please. Don’t apologize.
9. Molson or Labatt?
That’s a tough one. I’ll say it’s a tie.
Tie? Molson doesn’t get a few extra points here?
No, I’m a really big fan of Labatt.
The name thing doesn’t mean anything to you, does it?
I mean, I like Molson.
Yeah, a lot of people like Moulson.
I’ve been into Molson Export lately. But I like them both. It’s a tie.
“I like the tennis team because my girlfriend’s on it, it’s tied, I really like hockey …”
I told you, man! I’m a boring guy.
Tell me? You didn’t tell me! No one told me this! You said, “yeah, I’ll do the interview.” You didn’t tell me you were boring!
You should have picked someone exciting!
Hey! You’re the captain, man! You score the goals! Who’s more exciting than you?
10. If you could have dinner with any three people, living or dead, who would they be?
Umm, hmm. I should say something and be a real wuss.
Do it. Go ahead, be a wuss. See what happens.
I could [laughter] I should say something [laughter] …
No, no. I can’t.
Come on. You’re killing me.
No, I can’t.
Okay, three people. Yeah, definitely Wayne Gretzky.
He goes without saying.
He’s a lock. Hmm. Who’s interesting? People probably pick Ghandi or something. What have you had in the past?
I don’t think I’ve had Ghandi, but Christy Planer wanted to cook for Jesus. I’ve had some Bill Murrays, I have had some dead grandmothers, I’ve had a Vince Lombardi.
Who’s my favorite comedian? I’ll put Owen Wilson on there. I love him.
What’s you’re favorite Owen Wilson movie?
Wedding Crashers. Definitely.
It’s an instant classic.
Dead grandmother, huh?
You don’t have to feel guilty or anything. You don’t have to go in that direction.
No, I’ll go with my grandmother. She died before I was born.
Look, I’m touched, but Kelly Kramer already said that three weeks ago.
Oh man, I can’t go with that if Kelly went with that.
Can I wiggle my girlfriend in there?
No. I bet you have dinner with her all the time. She’s off the table.
Yeah, that’d be embarrassing.
You, Owen Wilson, Wayne Gretzky, and you’re girlfriend. That would be awesome.
I don’t think she knows any of those people.
She doesn’t know who Wayne Gretzky is? Do you guys have anything in common?
No, not really. It’s a weird relationship.
You’re telling me.
Who could be my third guy?
Who were you going to say before, when you were being a wuss?
Oh for the love of [head explodes]
Who would be interesting? What about Aristotle? He’d be fun.
Yeah, put him in there.
We’ll throw him in. Just for the hell of it.
Yeah, just for old time’s sake.
Maybe we’ll learn something.
10 Questions with Per Ostman will appear every week, or until he gets fired. Questions, suggestions, and threats can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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