This week’s interview is with Boston Badgers G Roger Orion.
SHL Digest: We’re here with someone who’s very familiar to longtime SHL fans, Roger Orion. Roger, thanks for speaking with us.
Roger Orion: Well, I’ve got plenty of time right now, since I’m on the DL.
SHLD: Yes, that’s sadly true. But let’s talk about how you made your way to Boston. You made two trips to the Finals with the Galaxy. A lot of fans assumed you’d be there for your whole career.
RO: Hey, I used to think so too!
SHLD: But you went to free agency last offseason, and a number of teams wanted to sign you, including big contenders like Seattle and Hershey. But you stunned the hockey world by signing with the Badgers. What led you to make that decision?
RO: Honestly, [GM] Jody [Melchiorre] had a lot to do with it. He was totally honest with me from the beginning. He laid out his vision for what he’s building here, and I really liked what he said.
SHLD: When you say he was “honest,” what do you mean?
RO: Well, when I met with him, the first thing he sad was, “I have to ask: are you actually considering signing here, or are you just meeting with us to bid up your contract? If you’re just here to drive up your price, I respect that, but let’s go grab a beer instead. If you’re serious, then let’s talk about how you can help us build a great team.” I told him I don’t meet with teams unless I’m interested. He saw I was serious, and he respected it.
SHLD: What was the vision he sketched out?
RO: He told me, “If you’re interested in winning the Vandy right away, there are a lot better places to sign. But if you want to help build an organization that can win lots of Vandys, this is your place.” He told me about the kind of hard-working, team-focused, defense-oriented team he wanted to build. He told me that he saw me as a cornerstone of the team, and that he was looking at the money and term to show it. He moved Boston right up to the top of my list.
SHLD: Hershey and Seattle are both at the top of their divisions here at the All-Star break, and they’ve got a real shot at making the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Badgers are down in the cellar. Do you ever have any second thoughts about your decision?
RO: No way. Why should I? I signed on for the long haul, and this is what I expected. I’m not some fading veteran at the end of my career, trying to chase that one last ring. I consider myself in the middle of my career, and I’m thinking long-term. I believe in what Jody and the organization are building.
SHLD: As you mentioned at the beginning, you’re on the DL right now. Is it frustrating not to be out on the ice?
RO: Of course it is! When you’re a player, you want to play. But I’m following the medical team’s advice, not trying to rush back and do something that could screw me up longer-term. Plus, it’s a good chance for Wags [Carson Wagner] and Schemmer [Jonas Schemko] to get some more ice time, and that’s a good thing.
SHLD: Throughout your career, you’ve been very involved with assisting wounded servicemen and -women. How did you get involved in that?
RO: When I played in DC, we took trips to Walter Reed and met a lot of soldiers who were recuperating from major injuries and trauma. And it just blew me away. We hockey players like to think we’re tough. But we’ve got nothing on these guys, people who are recovering from traumatic brain injuries or missing an arm or a leg. They’ve got strength and courage like you wouldn’t believe.
SHLD: And you’ve stayed involved in that cause in your new city.
RO: Absolutely. I have it in my contract that I get tickets to every home game to donate to wounded warriors. And in March, we’re going to have a special night where we’re going to bring them out on the ice to honor them, and have them come to the clubhouse. It’s gonna be great.
SHLD: Well, thanks for a thoughtful and interesting interview, Roger. Best of luck with the rest of the season!
RO: Thanks. I’m excited for the second half.