This week’s interview is with New York Night C Brock Manning.
SHL Digest: We’re here this week with one of the SHL’s all-time leading scorers, Brock Manning of New York. Brock, thanks for speaking with us.
Brock Manning: I’m always happy to get the word out to the fans.
SHLD: It’s been an exciting season for the Night, as it looked for much of the season as though your team might make the postseason for the first time. In the end, however, [it looks like] you came up a bit short. How would you assess your season?
BM: Obviously, our goal is to win the Vandy, and we didn’t [probably won’t] even make the playoffs, so we can’t call that a success. But we’ve reached the point where the other teams have to take us seriously as contenders, and where we take ourselves seriously too. And that’s a big step.
SHLD: You mention taking yourselves seriously as contenders. What do you think has been the key to that?
BM: Coach [Nick] Foster deserves a lot of the credit for that. I know a lot of people think all he does is fire insults at other teams, but within the locker room, he’s really challenged us to get serious about playing as a team and doing what it takes to win. And some of the more senior guys like myself, he’s challenged us to step up and be leaders, hold each other accountable.
SHLD: And the team has met that challenge?
BM: Yeah, I’d say we have. Guys used to be focused on themselves and their own stats first, and now we’re thinking more about how we can help the team succeed. We want the whole to be greater than the sum of our parts. Before, we were just parts, and we weren’t even trying to fit together.
BM: A little of both, really. He takes rivalries seriously, and he encourages us to play with a chip on our shoulder. We know that because we’re from New York and we’ve got a lot of star players, it’s easy for fans in other cities to hate on us. We don’t back away from that; we let it fuel us.
SHLD: Especially with your black uniforms, you’ve got a little of that old Oakland Raiders mentality.
BM: That’s the kind of thing we go for, yeah. But at the same time, some of the crazier stuff [Foster] says? That’s for the media, mostly. He likes to call it “laying down cover fire.” He takes the heat and stirs the pot, and it gives us some space to just play our game.
SHLD: You’re one of the top offensive talents in the SHL, and you have been throughout the history of the league. However, you’ve always had a reputation as a one-way player, and critics say that New York will never win because your team doesn’t care about defense. How would you respond to those critics?
BM: I’d say two things. First, winning hockey games is all about possessing the puck and outscoring your opponent. There are lots of ways to do that; winning 5-4 counts just the same as winning 1-0. We play a high-octane style, but as long as we’re keeping the puck in the offensive zone, the other team isn’t scoring. The second thing is that there are a lot of so-called “hockey purists” who think that winning with defense is the only “real” way to win. You have to have a team full of battering rams like Michigan or Quebec, clog up the neutral zone, and choke the game to death. But where’s the fun in that? Fans have a lot more fun watching our games than a Quebec or Michigan game.
SHLD: One more question: You’re often acclaimed for having the best flow in the league. Do you have any hair care secrets to share?
BM: (laughs) Thanks! I guess if I have any secrets, it’s to take care of your hair and it will take care of you. I use a dry shampoo that my girlfriend turned me onto, and I always condition. Helmets are tough on hair, obviously, but I do what I can.
SHLD: On that note, we’ll wrap it up for the week. Thanks for the time, Brock, and good luck the rest of the season!
BM: Just know that we’ll be back next season, and we’ll be dangerous.