February 12 morning skate quotes: Kevin Gravel

Kevin Gravel:

On the experience of getting the call:
It’s obviously very exciting. You work your whole life, and whole career toward that point. That first call to come is really exciting, kind of surreal. It took a little bit to sink in, but once you get on that plane it’s time to go to work. It was a quick turnaround for me. Last night, wasn’t really what we were looking for with the result, but that first game is always an exciting game for you, and it’s one I will never forget.

On his own evaluation of his performance:
I think there are things to build on. Like you said, first game jitters there at the beginning, but as the game went on I felt a little bit more comfortable. There are obviously things I can work. A few things here or there that I picked up throughout the game that you wished had gone a little differently in your head, but that’s going to happen. For a first game, you will take it. It is just good to get that under my belt.

On Peter Budaj
He has been light’s out. He has a lot of experience, he has played a long time in the NHL and this year for him to come in and do what he has done for us in Ontario is huge. He has won a lot of games for us single-handedly, and I think he is at the top of the charts in pretty much every category down there. He’s an experienced guy, he prepares really well, he’ll be ready to go and I he will perform for us tonight.

On his calming presence:
He is, especially for us in Ontario. He is an older guy, we have a lot of young guys down there. Throughout the lineup we have a pretty young team. He is very good at reading when we need a whistle or when to slow the play down. His presence in the locker room is huge, he is always very vocal just calming guys down and just being that leadership that guys like myself really need down there.

On the experience of his first game:
It was exciting, you never really know what to expect. You can watch as many games as you want on TV, but until you finally get out there and feel the pace first-hand and everything that goes on out there, you need to experience it to really understand how it works. As the game went on I felt a little more comfortable. There were certainly some first game jitters for me, but like you said the result wasn’t there. That was very unfortunate, we would have liked to play better last night, but the first game is always an exciting thing for a player and I think it’s something that will hold with me forever.

On who was watching from home:
The first person I called was my dad. It was a mad scramble, they figured out how to stream the game at home. I know that my parents were watching, my sister was watching, a lot of my friends and family were texting me throughout the night. It means a lot to me because I know that people are keeping tabs on me back home and are rooting for my success. Hopefully my dad can get out here, hopefully I can stay up long enough for him to get here and catch a game.

On what type of player he is:
Throughout my career, I have been a guy that is relied upon defensively. I like to make sure that my defensive zone is taken care of out there. That’s my first responsibility as a defenseman and that’s something I take a lot of pride in. Over the last couple of years I have felt more comfortable with the puck and have jumped up in the play more, but that doesn’t really change my mentality, I like to make sure the d-zone is taken care of, but if I see an opportunity I am not afraid to jump in there as long as it’s the right time.

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