Roughly two weeks ago, I got to sit down - in a virtual chair, since it was done online - with Vancouver Canucks prospect Frank Corrado, hoping to introduce fans to a player that could very well be playing a prominent role on the team in the years to come.
On a more selfish level, I had a lot of fun doing it, and it was a success, so I went back to the well. This time around, I had the opportunity to chat with Bill Sweatt (who you can follow @billysweatt) about a wide range of nonsense.
And let's face it, you can't go wrong when chatting with a member of the Chicago Wolves. Anyone that followed some of those guys on Twitter last season got to see the type of personality, and banter, that we rarely get to see out of NHLers. I hear it has something to do with the bus rides, but I use transit on a regular basis, and don't draw that kind of inspiration.
So You're An Expert: Let's get this out of the way right off the bat. Do you prefer to be called Bill, or Billy? And if it's the latter, when do you plan on dropping on "y"?
Bill Sweatt: You know, to be honest with you, either/or is okay. I've never really been picky when it comes to what people call me, so I never find this to be a huge deal.
What do the guys in the lockerroom call you? We know that hockey players aren't the most creative bunch when it comes to that. Is it just Billy? Please tell me it's not "sweater".
There are a bunch - Sweater, Sweatty, and one that for the purposes of this interview I can not divulge. It just wouldn't be appropriate. But for the most part, the main one my whole life has been Sweatty. The only time I really wasn't called by that was at Colorado College, and that was because my brother was already there and his nickname was Sweatty.
In August of 2010, you were a free agent, and wound up deciding to sign with the Vancouver Canucks. Why did you choose them specifically? Did the fact that they had recently signed your brother Lee factor into your decision?
No, Lee did not factor into my decision. When deciding where I was going to go to college, my brother was a huge factor because I was going into college a year early, and he served as my mentor by looking out for me in my freshman year. I chose the Canucks because my agent and I looked at their depth chart and saw that they were loaded, but in a few years some guys contracts would be up, and some would retire. I figured I could maybe fill one of those openings after developing in the AHL.
Let's talk about Lee for a second. I'm sure most Canucks fans haven't forgotten the goal he scored against Pekka Rinne in his debut. What is he up to these days?
Lee is working at Wells Fargo and doing what he loves most - stocks. The good thing is that he doesn't regret his decision to retire, and is happy with where he is currently at.
Back in December, the Canucks called you up to fill a spot in the lineup. Describe the thoughts going through your head, and the instant feelings you got right after the phone call.
The GM of the Chicago Wolves, Wendell Young, all of a sudden pulled me into his office while I was sitting with the guys watching TV. And he laid the news on me. I was shocked, excited, and nervous. All of those feelings were rolled into one. I was anxious to get up there and join the team. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, especially since my first game was in a sold out barn in Montreal. It doesn't get much better than that!
What was your mindset heading into that first game against the Canadiens? John Garrett had this to say about your performance: "I thought Bill Sweatt played well tonight. When you didn't notice a guy in his first NHL game, it's a good thing".
My mindset was to just do what I was doing in Chicago, and translate that to the NHL. I was nervous, but I knew that those feelings would wash away after a few shifts. And they did. I didn't want to play out of my element or try doing too much. I just wanted to keep it simple. And the fact that Mr. Garrett said that likely means that I was successful in doing so.
The whole purpose of this interview is for the fans of the team to get to you know a little bit better. As you were coming up, and working at your craft, what specific players did you look up to? Who did you try to model your game after?
Peter Forsberg is the first player that comes to mind. He could really do it all. He had great vision, passing, scoring touch, and was not afraid to give it back to guys. You have to appreciate a player like that.
Ha, well I will give you that answer, and then get into specifics. Everything needs to get better, and that's the main goal. But if I had to focus on certain things more than others, I would say I'd like to be stronger on the puck, work on my stick handling, and working on getting my shot off quicker. I want to have a great summer and really try to turn some heads in camp this year.
I hear that you're a pretty badass roller hockey player, too? How did you get into that?
First off, thank you for the compliment. When my brother and I were kids we weren't getting enough ice-time in terms of practice. So my parents put us into roller hockey as a way to get more practice and help develop our skills. It was great because in the summer time it would be hard to find ice, and roller hockey was the perfect remedy for that. It helped both my brother and I tremendously.
Okay, I'm not going to ask you what the lockerroom in Chicago is like, because I'm sure you'll say something along the lines of there being a group of "beauties". Based off of your interactions over Twitter, you guys seem to have good-natured fun while ribbing each other. Has there ever been a time where a joke, or prank, went wrong and someone didn't take it in the way it was intended to be taken?
I mean, stuff like that is bound to happen especially when you're seeing the same guys every day for about 3 to 6 hours a day. But in the end, everything gets resolved. I can't remember anything specific though, because stuff like that happens a good amount.
Who would you say you are closest with on the team?
I would say my roommate on the road (Eddie Lack), or Jordan Schroeder and Mike Davies. Davies, Schrades, and I played on a line and we get along very well. I'd say we have become pretty good buds.
I'll let you go on this. What do you know about @strombone1? Have you heard any rumblings about whether or not it's actually Roberto, or is someone just pulling a fast one on us?
Ha, you know I honestly not sure. But if you want to do some detective work, I would be contacting Mike Duco.
Billy, that was fun. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, and good luck next season. If you want to get to know more about Billy, the Chicago Wolves did a player profile on him back in January: