An Interview with Avs Defenseman John-Michael Liles

In an phone interview with Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles, I ask him about the playoffs, regular season, and the website advancemyathlete.com

Any words about the win last night? 

What can you say;
Anderson came up huge for us. Sometimes we need those bounces in the playoffs.
It is not going to be all the time when the opposing defenseman puts it in his
own net. We’ll take it.

How does it feel to be part of win, when the Sharks dominated
most of the game?

Anytime you can get a
win in playoffs, regardless if the other team dominates, the bottom line is the
win, and that is all that matters.  

You scored the first goal of the series, explain how that
was set up and how it felt?

We had a power-play,
just some hard work by all the guys on the pp, and they got it to me on the
point. I got as much wood as I could and get it in the air. I beat Nabokov up
high. Anytime you can score a goal, it feels good. Getting one early in that
game gave us confidence.

You’re continuing to play just as strong as you finished the
season, do you feel you have elevated your play even further?

Speaking for myself, I
am trying to. Speaking for anyone, in order for a team to have success,
everyone has to elevate their game. Everyone in that room is trying to do that.
I was just trying to help the team anyway that I could. Trying to utilize my
skating from the back end, and trying to continue how I use my speed into the
playoffs.

You have played a few playoff series with the Avs before,
what is different this year?

I think the youth that
is on this team. I came in a rookie in 2003-04 with so many veterans and stars
my rookie year. It is amazing how the team has transformed in the seven years I
have been here. The future of the Avs organization looks great, with these guys
logging many minutes. It has been an interesting transformation and a good experience
to be a part of.

Did you know you and the Avs were going to make the playoffs
when you scored the overtime winner against the Sharks?

I don’t think you
know, but I know getting that victory was a huge step in achieving that goal of
getting to the playoffs. We had a tough stretch of good teams we played. That
victory really pushed us in the right direction to getting into the playoffs.
If you get the two points against a team against San Jose, it definitely feels
good.

How different is it to play, when your team is/was
considered to be terrible at the start of the season?

Last year was a tough
year. I think that going back, it wasn’t the easiest year for anybody. No one
gave us much of a shot, and we are where we are. The amount of young guys that
we have used and the big roles they played for us, speaks a lot of the talent
that is coming into the organization and the direction it is headed.

Now, before the playoffs, you were on the hot seat all
season long from the coaches, explain how that felt.

It is never an easy
position to be outside the lineup looking in. I am no different from any other
guy in the locker room. You want play and be part of the team. On the outside
looking in, it makes you re-evaluate things and that is what I did. Focusing on
the aspects of my game, and where it got me to where I am.

Is it hard to focus and play well every game when the Avs
have so many defenseman?

It is not something
that you can focus on. The main focus is to go out there and do your job. That
is what you have to focus on. The number of defenseman that can step in, tells
how strong of a team we have. Bottom line is to go out there and do your job
every night.

You again, were the highest scoring defensemen for the Avs,
what do you feel you bring when you step on the ice?

Just try and provide
some offense from the back end using my speed. Help the team make transition
plays, and to make sure the power-play is running smoothly. My job sense I
broke into the league as a point man. It is never easy having new faces around
you on the power-play.

You are a member of the Advance My Athlete website, what is
it exactly?

A way for younger
kids, who aren’t in high school or in main stream scouting areas, a way to get
noticed, and increase knowledge about the sport they play. Not just hockey, but
a few other sports.

How did you become a member?

Rick Berry is one of
the founders and Dan Hinote. Danny and I lived together my rookie year and they
are two of my good friends. They approached me to be an advisor to the website
and as well a member. It was a no-brainer.

When did you know you wanted to become a professional athlete?

Started playing sports
when I was five I think. Every kid grows up wanting to being a professional athlete,
as well as a doctor or astronaut. I always loved sports and was always involved
in them. For me I was able to make the next level and make the jump, it is surreal.

What kind of tools or people did you need in your life to
achieve the goal of being a professional hockey player? 

Great support system.
My family was my support and I wouldn’t be where I am today without my parents,
my brother and sister. My coaches were a big factor too. I was never the
biggest guy growing up, but the amount of support I had was amazing. I had a
lot of great coaches and teammates along the way and I am very fortunate, that
is for sure.

Anything you would recommend to young athletes who want to
follow in your footsteps?

Sounds pretty cliché,
but work hard and you never know what can happen. IF you are 12 or 29, everything
flies by rather quickly. It seems yesterday I was a rookie in the NHL. I can
just say work hard, that is the best advice I can give.

Do you think an educational website would have helped you
when trying to become a professional hockey player?

Yeah, it would have helped
me. Not just to become a professional hockey player, but to become a better
hockey player. It is amazing of the advancements that are going on in sports
today. Any edge you can gain will help you done the road. I think kids are
getting better and working out earlier and horning their skills earlier. If I
would have had a chance to use Advance My Athlete when I was 14, 15 or in college,
it would have definitely helped me.

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