Sunday, November 25, 2007

Interview with Ajay Baines

Earlier this week I was able to get in touch with Hamilton Bulldogs forward Ajay Baines. Ajay played his junior hockey for the Kamloops Blazers, and broke into the AHL in 2000 playing for the Norfolk Admirals. Ajay played for them for 5 and a half seasons, becoming the franchise's all-time leading scorer. He signed a contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs last season, and helped lead them to the Calder Cup. He is highly revered as a great leader, and was invited to the Montreal Canadiens training camp earlier this year. Unfortunately, he got injured there and that injury has kept him out of action all of this year. Ajay was nice enough to answer a few questions I had for him, and I thank him for donating his time for this interview.

EH: Well Ajay, thanks for taking time out of your schedule to do this. First things first, how is your injury situation coming along?

Ajay: The injury is coming along fine. It's taken a little longer than I would've liked, but I'm not that far away now.

EH: After playing so many years in the AHL without winning the Calder Cup, how sweet was last year for you?

Ajay: Winning the Calder Cup was amazing. I guess it tastes sweeter when it takes you that long to win one!! Ha ha ha. The whole experience was incredible.

EH: Did it mean a lot to you that you scored the game winning goal in the cup-clinching game? (A beauty may I add)

Ajay: Oh man, scoring the goal was a lot of fun. You don't care who scores when you are in that situation, but c'mon, every guy dreams of scoring a goal like that!

EH: You are known around the league as a great leader, what qualities do you think you have that make people think that way?

Ajay: Haha, I don't know man. I don't think I do anything special to help lead. I just try to be myself. And I remember when I was a young guy, I was surrounded by very supportive, yet demanding older players which helped me a lot.

EH: You are also known for being one of the few East Indian hockey players playing professionally, do you feel as if you have to prove yourself to many people?

Ajay: I know there are not too many Indian guys playing hockey. And I don't know the mindset of Mangers and Hockey people out there, but I have been treated great by everyone and never once thought that my race was an issue.

EH: Does the fact that you were never drafted drive you to succeed?

Ajay: The draft was a long time ago, and there are lots of players who were never drafted who are still playing pro hockey now. I don't think about that at all.

EH: You played 4 years in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers, how did that help your career, and are there any notable people from that time period that especially helped you along the way?

Ajay: Playing for the Blazers was a dream for me. It was my hometown and a great organization. My coach Marc Habscheid really taught me a lot of what it would take to be a pro. Jarome Iginla was a teammate who I learned a lot from even at a young age. He is the most competitive player I've ever played with.

EH: How hard was it to move on when you got traded from Norfolk, a city where you played in for 5 and a half seasons and a franchise in which you are the all-time points leader?

Ajay: Leaving Norfolk was interesting. I have a lot of great memories there and spent a big chunk of my life there. But I asked for the trade as things were not going well in my last year there. And it was a move that I needed, and my career needed.

EH: You wear the number 32, is there any significance behind that?

Ajay: 32 was the number I got in Junior. And I've worn it ever since. Shaquille O'Neal has a part of it too...

EH: Even though you got injured, what was the experience at Montreal Canadiens training camp like?

Ajay: Well last year's camp was great, this year's, I got hurt on the first day. But, an unbelievable organization. From the top to the bottom.

EH: Carey Price obviously played a major role in winning the Calder Cup last season, was there any doubt in your mind that he would make the jump to the NHL this year?

Ajay: Carey Price is the real deal. There was no doubt in my mind.

EH: Who is the funniest player you have ever played with?

Ajay: I've played with some real characters. 2 of them in Norfolk, Nick Kuiper and Matt Keith. And Cory Urquhart here in Hamilton.

EH: Out of all the players you have played against, who was the hardest to keep up with?

Ajay: I think Patrick Marleau in junior. He was so fast and he was only 17. Marian Hossa was a incredible as well.


Ron Guillet said...

Amazing work, Egg. Kudos to Ajay Baines for doing in the interview, obviously well appreciated by readers and bloggers of the site.

Professor Prax said...

Great to hear from some of the troups down in Hamilton. Ajay's a great team player and a great role player, from what I heard about him, and I'd love to see him get a shot someday on the big team.

Great job Egg!

Eggshmeg said...

Thanks guys!