When the Rangers signed undrafted free agent defenseman Blake Parlett last Tuesday and I put together the article about it, I realized that there is very little information about Parlett out there. In fact, other than basic statistics a single Connecticut Whale article about him with quotes from himself and JJ Daigneault, there is virtually nothing about him to be found. So to learn a little bit about Blake and his journey to becoming an official New York Rangers prospect, why not listen to what Blake himself has to say? With the help of Bob Crawford of the Connecticut Whale, we were able to get in touch with Blake, and Blake kindly answered some questions for us. Keep reading to see what Blake has to say about himself as a hockey player, his journey to becoming a Ranger, and his goals for the next season.
Adam: I’m sure that becoming part of an NHL organization was always your goal, but did you think it would happen so quickly? Was starting in the ECHL and ending the season with an entry-level contract the plan all along?
Blake: Of course my main goal was to play well enough to deserve an NHL contract. At the start of the season my goal was to make Hartford out of camp. That didn’t happen but looking back now I feel it was great for my development to go down to ECHL and be able to play a lot of minutes on a good team. Once I was called up I had a lot of confidence to be able to play at the American League level and I took advantage of the opportunity the coaches gave me.
Adam: Was signing a contract something that was in the works for a while or did it just recently pop up? Were you anticipating it or was it a bit of a pleasant surprise?
Blake: About a week after the season ended The Rangers Management and my agent had been in touch and they had said they were going to offer me a contract. That was definitely a great feeling but I felt that after my stint in the AHL I proved I can not just play in this league but I can contribute night in night out.
Adam: You’ve obviously been a part of this organization for a brief time, so Rangers fans don’t really know much about you as a player other than what your stats dictate. What kind of player are you?
Blake: I consider myself to be a two way defensemen. I like to jump up in the play a lot and try to make plays happen offensively. I’m also able to bring a physical game when it’s needed.
Adam: I recently read some comments from Wade Redden praising your play. How helpful has it been to have a guy like Redden, who knows what it takes to succeed in the NHL, as your teammate?
Blake: I was like a sponge around Wade everyday trying to learn everything I could from him. He is a great player and is really dedicated off the ice. He leads by example and helped me with a lot of little things in my game.
Adam: We’ve heard all sorts of praise about J.J. Daigneault and we’ve seen his coaching lead to success for players at the NHL level. Could you just talk to us about what kind of coach he is and how he’s helped you in your time with the Whale?
Blake: J.J is a really good coach. I think the reason he has had so much success with young players is because he wants/lets guys play their games. If you’re an offensive defensemen he wants you to make plays and create offense, if you’re a shut down defensemen he wants you to play physical, make it hard to play against you. He is always willing to work extra with guys after practice on whatever they need to improve on.
Adam: What was your favorite NHL team growing up? Who were your favorite players? Do you try to model your play after anyone?
Blake: My favourite NHL team growing up was Vancouver. When I was young my family and I were on vacation in Vancouver and my parents took me to a game. It was the game against the Bruins where Bure passed the puck to his skate, kicked it back to his stick and scored. My favourite player growing up was Rob Blake. He was a big physical defenseman who had a lot of offensive upside and could quarterback the power play. I don’t try to model my game after anyone specific but I try to watch certain guys and learn things from them.
Adam: What needs to happen in the 2011-2012 season for it to be a successful one for you?
Blake: In the upcoming season my goal is to keep improving my overall game. I want to come in to camp and leave a good impression on the coaches and management. For it to be a successful one for me, I want to play my first game in the NHL. That’s my goal.
Thanks to Blake for taking the time out to talk with us. It’s good to see that, while he’s proud of his accomplishments last year, he’s not content. Regardless of the odds, he’s going to do his best to make an impression on John Tortorella and earn a spot on the team.