This week’s interview is with Saskatchewan Shockers coach Morris Thompson.
SHL Digest: This week, we’re talking to the new coach of the Saskatchewan Shockers, Morris Thompson.
Morris Thompson: I’m pleased to be here.
SHLD: What do you think of your team so far?
MT: There’s a lot of talent here, definitely. We’ve got a good core of young players with speed, with the potential for a sturdy defense and a reliable offense. And in Zeke [Zagurski], we’ve got one of the league’s better netminders. We got off to a bit of a slow start, but we’ve got the pieces to build a contender.
SHLD: Before you came to Saskatchewan, you were Ron Wright’s assistant in Michigan, so you know a lot about building a contender. Do you see any of the Wolves in the Shockers?
MT: Absolutely. Zeke has the same kind of unflappability that you see in [Dirk] Lundquist, and that’s a key to success for any goalie.
SHLD: At least if you can get him to stop eating hot dogs on the ice.
MT: Yeah, we had a talk about that. But in general, this team is willing to do the kind of unglamorous work in their own end that a lot of teams won’t. That’s what made Michigan so successful.
SHLD: And now you’re having to do battle with your old team, as well as the defending champs in Anchorage. What do you think it will take to reach the next level, to compete with those teams?
MT: It’s a matter of attitude. Any professional athlete wants to win; it’s in their nature. But the best athletes hate to lose, which isn’t the same thing. They hate losing so much that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to prevent it. They’ll practice shooting until their hands bleed. They’ll skate laps past the point that they feel they want to drop. They’ll push themselves to the limit, then they’ll keep going, because that’s what it takes to beat the best teams.
SHLD: And you think that attitude has been missing in Saskatchewan?
MT: Frankly, yeah. The stories you heard about the Shockers, they were kind of the joke of the league. You’d hear about guys getting drunk and getting arrested at the airport, or guys microwaving burritos and setting the locker room on fire, and you’d just shake your head.
SHLD: They’ve definitely had some crazy stories, yeah.
MT: Whenever the Shockers would play us, we’d be licking our chops, because we knew we could skunk them. They had plenty of talent, but they didn’t know what to do with it.
SHLD: And you’re looking to change that.
MT: Exactly. Just like Michigan, we want to be the team nobody wants to play. You might beat us on any given night, but we won’t make it easy. You’ll have to work your butt off and take a beating if you’re going to get that W.
SHLD: Tell us a little bit about what you’re like away from the arena. Are you married? Do you have kids? What do you do for fun?
MT: I am married, and we’ve got a 3-year-old daughter. She’s the joy of my life. As for fun: During the season, honestly, my focus is here at the rink. During the offseason, though, I make it a point to unplug. We like to go hiking and bike riding. And I like to work on my car?
SHLD: Cool! What kind of car do you have?
MT: It’s a ’67 Mustang. I found it in a field, a total heap. Paid $200 for it. And for the last 5 years, I’ve been restoring it, bringing it back to life piece by piece.
SHLD: Man, that sounds like a lot of work.
MT: It is. But I’m not afraid of work. And it’s almost sort of meditative, just me out in the garage with Sally. It’s a great way to decompress from the stress and chaos of the season.
SHLD: Sounds very nice. That about wraps up our interview for today. Thanks for your time, Morris, and good luck this season!
MT: We’re going to do our best.