Doug Clarkson - Midterm Interview
We're just past the midway point of the season so thought it would be good to catch up with some of the players and see how its going. Firmly establishing himself as a fan favourite at the Tent, Doug Clarkson seemed the logical place to start. We caught up with Doug shortly after the Devils had dumped the Giants out of the Challenge Cup.
What was your first reaction when you rolled up outside the tent for the first time?
I honestly was sleeping when we stopped, and still was a little groggy when we stepped off the bus. But I thought it was a standard, smaller rink, until I actually realized it was a tent and the BBT wasn't just a nickname. But once you get in the doors it's just like any community rink here or back home.
Now you've had the pleasure of visiting all the rinks in the league, which opponents rink is the best to play at and which is the worst in your opinion?
There are definitely some good rinks in the league. And I think there really isn't a best or worst. I think the rinks are pretty different. Belfast and Sheffield are nice, big venues, Coventry and Nottingham are great as well but I also enjoyed playing against the Scottish teams just as much. For me personally, all that matters is there's ice and seats.
What's been the highlight for the season so far for you as a Devil?
I think our Quarter-Final victory over Belfast has been a huge highlight of our season. We had everyone blocking shots, making smart plays, and I honestly thought the roof was going to come down it was so loud. Obviously our streak of wins we had during the New Year was big as well. But as a team it was a great feeling beating Belfast in the Cup.
You've suffered from short seasons the last few years for various reasons. How does it feel getting regular ice this year?
Ya the last couple of seasons haven't gone the best. But coming in here, especially at the start of the preseason and first season games, it was an adjustment. I haven't played this much at all in the last 2 years, and it took a handful of games to get the rhythm back. I knew I would get chances and help contribute to the team, but like I said it took a couple of weeks to get that offensive side back after not playing much the last 2 years.
- On that note, do you have anything to say to Sheffields Crystal Ball of Hockey Dave Simms who confidently predicted you'd be on the plane home by Christmas.
Not really. That's his opinion and I'm sure there are fans who think like that or don't like me. All I care about is Cardiff. That our fans are happy and we're winning games.
I've seen a couple of fans accuse you of being too nice on the ice, always smiling. When you skate up to an opposition player around the face off circle, are you chatting nicely to them or trash talking them?
I just am always smiling in general, in the room at 9am or after a bag skate and long practice. I'm always a happy guy. I never talk nice out there. Even guys I'm buddies with, we don't talk out there. I'm usually replying to someone else who's chirping me, or if we need it just get under guys skin.
You've been involved in a double header, the triple header is coming up relatively soon... How much difference does it make having such a large following in the grim, frozen north?
It's huge. That double header was crazy and I've only been hearing about how pumped the fans are for the triple header. Anytime we can get the red army behind us is a boost.
Now you've been playing here for a while, how would you say the EIHL compares to the previous leagues you've played in?
I am very impressed with the level of play. I always had a buddy or two playing in the league but you don't really understand until your playing in it. When you have ex-NHL and AHL players it's going to be a good league. The thing that really sticks out for me as well is how close the standings are. But you can see how passionate not only our fans are but the fans in the UK are and they deserve a good league.
What do you feel the league could do to improve itself?
I think the league is on the right track for sure. There's always room for improvement in anything you do but as a whole the league is definitely run well. Having some teams in the next couple of seasons building better facilities will have a huge impact on the fan base and will attract more players.
How are you finding living in Cardiff? Everyone knows it's the best city in the league, but have you had a chance to have a proper look around here yet?
Nicole and I love it in Cardiff. It's amazing being in a city that's not so big but has so much to offer. It's also great being in a sports town like Cardiff where you have football, rugby and ice hockey. We have been all over the city and to some places just outside of Cardiff, along the coast. But we definitely feel like this is our 2nd home, from how the fans and owners/management treat us, to the guys on the team and there partners. In one word it's Perfect.
Anything you'd like to add to the fans?
Well I'd like to first say Thank You for the unbelievable support so far this season and like I said before it's like having an extra player out there when your that loud. Secondly, myself and all the boys want to win. That's all we think about and we all know how bad this city wants it. We really are a family and would all do anything for each other. Lastly, I got a tweet after the Belfast 2nd leg about how I've been to two NHL camps, played exhibition last season and how this is the best place I have played, and it's a tent. I want to reiterate how true that is. We have guys on the team who have played NCAA, Major Junior, AHL, NHL, etc. We all see how crazy it is here. And for me personally this is the BEST place I have ever played. I have been very lucky to play a game for a living and play where I have but I have never felt more welcomed to a city and team then I have this year.
A huge thanks to Doug for taking the time out to answer the questions for us.
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