Special Photo: Gwinnett Gladiators<br> Gwinnett defenseman Drew Paris is in his second season of pro hockey and returned to the Gladiators after a stellar rookie campaign.
Drew Paris is in his second season of pro hockey and second season with the Gwinnett Gladiators. The 22-year-old defenseman had a breakout campaign in 2009-10 with the Gladiators and was named to both the ECHL All-Star and All-Rookie teams as he tallied 45 points in 65 games.
Paris began this season with Toronto of the American Hockey League but didn’t appear in a game and was added to Gwinnett’s roster a week into the season.
Paris, who played five years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before turning pro, talked to staff writer Christine Troyke about a variety of topics, including playing junior hockey in his home province, fighting and speaking French for this installment of “Getting to Know ...”
CT: What’s your hometown like?
DP: It’s the greatest place in North America (smiling). It’s called Point Claire, it’s in the west islands of Montreal. It’s just a great suburb area of Montreal. About 15 minutes from downtown. Real nice area. Grew up there, went to high school there. The elementary school was just down the street from my house.
Just couldn’t ask for more. Nice place, nice people. My two best friends live there.
CT: Are there any places in particular you miss?
DP: There are some restaurants they don’t have in the U.S. I like Amir’s, its a Lebanese restaurant. They have Lebanese places all over Montreal. But I like to switch it up. I can get good Mexican food here, which I don’t get in Montreal. It’s a good trade-off.
But mostly I just miss my friends. I’m godfather to my best friend’s 4-year-old son. I like to hang out with him in the summer. I help with babysitting sometimes.
CT: Hanging out with a 4-year-old probably isn’t that different than hanging out with your teammates is it?
DP: (laughing) Yeah, no. Maybe a bit less of an attention span.
But yeah, other than that, seeing my parents. It’s nice to be home and talk to them. And my brothers, I have three brothers. My two little brothers are getting older so they’re doing more stuff that I do now. They’re 19.
CT: They’re twins?
DP: Yeah. I always just see them as so young, but they’re almost going to be 20. So the gap is closing — even if the age doesn’t change, the social gap does. We hang out a lot more. It’s pretty cool.
And my older brother lives downtown. So I don’t see him all that much, but we hang out, too.
CT: You played five years in the ‘Q’ (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) and for a number of different teams, but never less than half a season in any one place?
DP: Yeah, I was with a number of teams. I experienced that young. Which in a way I don’t regret. Because I’ve had a good start to my pro career, I’ve been in one place, but even if it changed, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock to me.
But I enjoyed all the places I played in the ‘Q’ and I have a good relationship with all the teams. It never whatsoever ended in a bad note. I was never traded for a negative reason. So I can’t complain about that.
CT: All those places, was there a degree of French vs. English speaking in all of them?
DP: Yeah. All French pretty much. Except Chicoutimi, that was 100 percent French and they spoke French in the (dressing) room. Which I had no problem with. There was one American who I felt sorry for. I really perfected my French there so in a way it helped me. I was pretty darn good at French at the end of that year. Pretty much 100 percent bilingual.
All the other places have been French, but they speak English in the room. Because there’s often some guys from Maritimes that don’t speak French. Then if you get some Americans, they obviously don’t speak French.
CT: Growing up in school, was it half and half you learned?
DP: No, I went to an English school in Montreal. But if you want to go to an English school, your parents have to both have gone to English schools their whole life. If you’re an immigrant coming from another country to Quebec, you’ve got to go to French school right away. It’s a weird kind of situation. But both my parents went to English school.
So I got to go to an English school. You have French class. There’s a French immersion program where all the classes are in French. But after 10 years, I realized I wasn’t even that good at French and maybe we should have paid more attention in French class. We would always speak English in French class.
But I really perfected French playing in the ‘Q’ and being in a French environment.
CT: How old were you when you first played hockey?
DP: I think I was 5.
CT: Have you always been a defenseman?
DP: No, I played forward until pee wees. Then I started playing D.
CT: What’s your record in fights?
DP: (Smiling) I’d like to say I won them all.
CT: How many have their been?
DP: Well, two last year and not that many in my Q career. Maybe four. I’d like to say they were all wins. I won handily.
CT: You gave some serious consideration to going to university instead of coming back to start your pro career last season?
DP: Yeah, I did. I was close. But in the end I decided I was going to pursue my hockey career.
CT: What was the big reason to consider university?
DP: I’m a big advocate of education and I know that I will get my degree. I’ve started university, but I haven’t finished it. But I didn’t want to give up my dream of making the NHL. So that’s why I came here.
CT: What players did you admire most growing up?
DP: Growing up, I liked different players. When I was really young, I didn’t know what position or how to get to the NHL so I liked Mike Modano and more forwards. But then when I grew up, I started to idolize the defense more because that’s what I was doing as a career. I like Tomas Kaberle and Jay Bouwmeester, a tall guy that plays an all-around game.
CT: What music do you listen to most often?
DP: I like techno and rap. Being from Montreal, I grew up with that. It’s definitely a huge dance culture. Because techno can be, it depends if you know the genre, but it’s not just one, there’s house and trance and different stuff. I like that stuff, more of a European flavor.