Joining us to talk about star treatment is Cody Eakin of the Kootenay Ice (WHL). Eakin has been one of the premier players in the WHL over the past couple of seasons which has allowed him to add considerably to his hockey resume which now includes being drafted by the Washington Capitals (third round, 2009), winning a silver medal with Team Canada in the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships in Buffalo, NY, and winning a Calder Cup Championship (AHL) with the Hershey Bears in 2010. Eakin discusses how adjusting to the pro game often means accepting a new role on the team. Catch the interview below.
Ryan asked if Cody believes star players do get treated a little differently than the average player. “Yeah. I guess differently in the sense that the coaches expect a certain amount from them,” said Eakin. “The best players know how to work and earn the respect of their coaches and they’ve put their time in over the years.”
Ryan continued by allowing Eakin to play the role of head coach. Ryan asked if two players, one a goal scorer and one a checker, make similar mistakes on the ice, for example, a missed assignment in the defensive zone, which player gets back on the ice first. “It’s tough to say. It depends on the game and situation,” started Eakin, “but in certain cases, I would think the higher end guy would go out again earlier.” “That’s the way the game is and those (high end players) usually get the most ice time.”
Ryan followed up by asking why that is. “I think (the high end players) have proved to the coaches that they can do it game in and game out,” said Eakin. “When you get to a higher level everyone has a certain role whether it’s checking or first line, everyone’s role is important. I don’t think the coaches are really picking favourites or anything like that.”
Ryan asked about a similar situation involving the same two players except instead of each missing a defensive assignment, they find trouble away from the arena. “Like I said, it depends on the team and the situation and how they’re doing,” said Eakin, “I think it will sometimes be the top guy that will get called upon first.” “(For) younger guys in our league, (the older players) are always told that we should know better and set an example for them.”
Ryan mentioned that Eakin wasn’t always a 90-point player in the WHL and asked how he was able to turn himself into one of those players. “I think I knew I always had it but just hard work over the years.” said Eakin. “Establishing a good relationship with my coach, working on the little things like being a good two-way player, and winning every battle I can. Over the years, you just kind of grow into the player you are and I was fortunate enough to put a little more p0ints up when I got a little older.”
Ryan asked if Eakin had any advice for the kids out there who are trying to convince their coaches that they should have a bigger role on the team. “I was always taught that hard work pays off,” said Eakin, “and you can never take something away from a guy that works his butt off everyday.” “Just work hard. Be one of the hardest working guys on the team and eventually you’re going to get your shot and when you do, don’t let it pass you.”