Three Minutes With: Preds center Cal O’Reilly…

This is the sixth in a multi-part series leading up to the 2010-11 regular season.

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To help bridge the gap between now and the regular season, we will be doing a series called Three Minutes With. Every installment will be with a different member of the Nashville Predators family. Could be players. Could be coaches. Could even be fans.

In the sixth installment we have Predators center Cal O’Reilly. An undeniably talented playmaker, O’Reilly was the 2009-10 version of the perma-scratch. The perma-scratch has been the job filled by the likes of Kevin KleinVille Koistinen and Ryan Jones in years past. O’Reilly, arguably, has more talent than those three guys combined but may very well be the victim of a numbers game in Nashville. He’s a natural center but names like Colin Wilson, Matthew Lombardi, David Legwand, Marcel Goc and Jerred Smithson are above his on the depth chart. So where does O’Reilly fit in? He was the Milwaukee Admirals’ leading scorer in 2007-08, trailed Mike Santorelli by a mere one point for that same honor in 2008-09 and then was the Ads’ fifth leading scorer last season despite only playing in 35 games. As far as his NHL accomplishments, he tallied five points in his first 10 games, including an assist on the game-winning goal in his first ever NHL contest. After signing a two-year contract last summer, he didn’t impress at camp and found himself back in Milwaukee. After getting recalled several times last year, he put together a very average stat line of 11 points in 31 NHL games. With the veteran names above him on the depth chart, this will be a very interesting training camp for the 23-year old Toronto native.

Jeremy K. Gover: Talk a little bit about the disappointing end to last year.
Cal O’Reilly: Yeah, I mean it’s always a tough loss when you’re that close, especially when you have the game won and it turns out that way. But it happens. All you can do is forget about it. It’s always in the back of your mind but you can’t dwell on it and you’ve just got to come back and it’s a new season so it’s a fresh start.

JG: Obviously Jason Arnott moved on but Matthew Lombardi basically replaced him as far as centers go. You’re a center youself so how do you see yourself fitting in among the logjam at the center position?
Cal: Yeah, there’s a lot of competition but you know I want to play and I feel like I can play and contribute and help this team win. That’s my concern and I just want to show that I’m ready and that I’m ready to be a regular in the lineup and play some minutes.

JG: For fans that have never been to the AHL side, can you kind of explain the basic differences between the minor leagues and the big club?
Cal: Well, hockey wise, everything’s a step quicker, guys are stronger, smarter, more skilled. It’s just kind of another step up like the American League was from junior and then the NHL was from the American League. It’s just that everybody’s better. Goalies are better. You know, it’s faster and you’ve got to adjust and you’ve got to find what works for you and improve your game.

JG: Any off the ice differences?
Cal: Well you know, everything’s a little more first class (on the NHL level), as it should be. But where I was in Milwaukee, they treated us awesome too. We had everything first class there too so the whole organization’s like that.

JG: This is the second year of your deal which means you’re on the one-way leg of it. Are there any differences to your training or preparation this year as opposed to previous years?
Cal: No, I mean, every summer I prepare the same. I try to get stronger and faster, you know, everyone tries to do the same stuff. Mentally, I’ve got a one-way contract so I’ve got a little bit of security but one-way contracts don’t mean everything. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be here so that’s my mind set. Is a one-year contract doesn’t mean everything.

JG: Finally, you’re a creative guy on the ice. Obviously any player will say you can’t think out there, just react. So, when do you know to be creative and when do you know to buckle down?
Cal: Well yeah, you always want to be creative but there’s a time and a place. You know, and you don’t want to force stuff. You don’t want to force everything. When they guy is there, you make it but it’s also about the time of the game. If you need goals, if you don’t need goals, whatever.

JG: Great. Thank you so much.
Cal: No problem.