Five Questions With … Tim Stapleton

Tim Stapleton was signed by the Thrashers as an unrestricted free agent on Nov. 30 after he was finishing a 25-game tryout with AHL San Antonio. The forward signed a two-year contract that will be a professional deal next season.

After a slow start, Stapleton finished with five goals in 45 games. He scored the game-wining goal in overtime against Carolina on March 9 and had the game-deciding goal in a shootout against Boston on Dec. 30. Stapleton was named to the U.S. team for the World Championships following his exit interview last month. He has an assist in three preliminary round games.

In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Stapleton had to say about where he fits in and getting to play on a line with Evander Kane.

Q. Overall, what are your impressions on your season considering where you started and where you ended?

A. It was a weird process for me. I was in San Antonio at the beginning of the year and didn’t really know what was going to happen. Then Atlanta came to me with a two-year deal and I couldn’t really refuse it. I didn’t think I was going to be playing right away with them. I just got an opportunity right away and was called up and down a lot. I didn’t really get time to get comfortable at first so it was kind of tough. But the opportunity I’ve been given this year and the way the coaching staff taught this has been like a dream come true because I have been waiting my entire life to get a chance like this. I think it’s been good. I hope next year I can get an even better chance and learn more. It was more of a learning process for me. From the first game to the last game I definitely feel like I can play and I’m excited for next year.

Q. It appears that you’ve shown them that you can play with the way you were rewarded with increased ice time and expanded roles they gave you toward the end of the season. Do you see it that way?

A. Yes. I feel like I can do more too. I’ve been a scorer my whole career and I think five goals in 45 games is not the outcome I wanted personally but I started off playing like five minutes and game and it did get increased. I learned more that it’s more of a defensive game and that’s something that’s been lacking in my career and I think I’ve been better defensively and offensively I can do more too. Overall, I’m just more excited. I wish we could keep playing.

Q. Did you put pressure on yourself knowing where you started this season and needing to prove yourself?

A. I did. When it was 25 games in and I hadn’t scored yet and I got put on waivers. I was getting to the point where I wondered if I was ever going to score. I just hung in there and kept plugging away and I was able to score a few times. Like I said, I’d like to score a lot more. I think I can. This summer is really big for me as far as getting into shape and getting ready for next year.

Q. How do you think you fit in here?

A. It was good. It’s tough not to. The group of guys here, it’s an incredible group of guys. Everyone gets along. It went by fast, that’s how fun it was. The coaching staff are teachers of the game. I knew guys from last year so I had a little jump. I feel part of the team and I have a year left on the contract and I hope I can take advantage of it.

Q. Evander Kane mentioned you as someone he really clicked with this year. How gratifying is that?

A. He said that huh? He doesn’t really compliment many guys (laughing). He is a great kid. I think during the stretch where I was able to start scoring, I think he was pretty much involved in every goal I scored. I was very fortunate to play with him. He is a world class player and he has such a future in this league. It’s going to be exciting to see. He is such a fast skater and I think we gelled together with our speed. I just got him the puck. Hopefully we can play more together. We always talked about wanting to play together. They had us together and we had some success. I’m looking forward to maybe getting to play with him next year.

The series concludes next week. Coming Monday, Alexander Burmistrov.

- Chris Vivlamore

19 comments Add your comment

DWTOO

May 6th, 2011
8:48 am

No one gets more out of their talent than Stapes. Hustles, never takes a shift off, always pushing – unfortunately his size and skill level are more suited to the AHL. And that’s not being negative towards him. I would have killed, or at least maimed, for the skill level to play in the ECHL let alone the A-League.

KLS1

May 6th, 2011
9:10 am

I think we need him to start the season with the Thrash next year, he earned it. I never thought I would say this but we have a lot of guys with size, now we some guys who can make plays and score.

He’s a poor man’s Danny Briere…and I believe he has a lot of upside even though he is older. Good luck Tim…we’re all counting on you!

Supertzar

May 6th, 2011
9:21 am

Sorry but got to disagree, he is part of the problem not part of solution. Another player that shoud have not “made it” out of the AHL. I can not even comment on the “a poor man’s Danny Briere” statement or I’ll go insane.

jimcee

May 6th, 2011
9:23 am

Those are the kind of players that can take a team deep into the playoffs.Of course you also need scorers but as Tampa and Nashville are proving it takes a balance.Look at the Vancouver Canucks…a large number of their players grinded it out in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose and earned their stripes before making it to the NHL.

Micheal Gearon III

May 6th, 2011
10:58 am

If Ladd doesn’t resign, then I vote Stapes’ for the “C”. And the Kaner comment cements my theory the kid is a prima donna.

5 on 5 = 25

May 6th, 2011
11:05 am

Let me ask this of you. Can we win the CUP with this guy? Just post “yes” or “no”. I don’t need to read any commentary about it.

Sam

May 6th, 2011
11:48 am

How can you not like this guy? Enthusiasm, humility, wanting to learn and get better personally, to help the team overall. Easy to want a player like this to succeed BIG. Glad to see him in the Worlds. Even better to hear him talk about the importance of working out over the summer. He seems to realy “get it”. Unlike some others.

Seems like Tim’s got good speed and a good eye for the game. Could be a good playmaker. The skill set is different, but his work ethic and desire and willingness to learn reminds me of Thorburn. And that’s obviously a compliment. Go, Timmy, go.

Freak-A-Dump

May 6th, 2011
12:20 pm

Tim Stapleton will lead us to the playoffs and the run to the cup next year! We re-signed Thorburn for 3 years which was the beginning of our cup run next year, now to complete the dynasty we are building here it all hinges on Stapleton being here next year. The only thing more we could ask for is Darren Haydar and Jason Krog being moved up to the Thrash! Stanley Dump here we come!

Yuvno Ballzerdik

May 6th, 2011
1:12 pm

You sound like me Freak-A-Dump , haha. I normally bash our AHL’ers out of boredom..Stapleton had a good shoot-out last year. Yep, we are in trouble if he is a roster player, again.

It’s not about ‘liking’ a player. It’s about knowing full well there are plenty of better players available to take that spot on the roster, players who will also fit in on the roster as far as likable goes. I’m sure Anthony Stewart has some sort of personality and is likable also..but hey guess what..he sucks. What did Afinogenov do, curse and poop in people’s locker? He was likable. He could score goals too, worked as hard as possible. This si why we stink, we don’t UPGRADE departed players..we fill the holes with Tim Stapleton types.

Supertzar

May 6th, 2011
3:53 pm

YB = voice of reason ya’ll

Cornbread

May 6th, 2011
4:55 pm

Guys like Stapleton are smart hockey players. They don’t make a lot of mistakes. They are also very coachable and want to learn how to play the game the right way. He can capitalize on all of that and utilize his speed and puck skills to be an even more effective player. Stewart is the same. Afinogenov could score goals and that was it. The rest of his game sucked far worse than the weaknesses Stapes and Stewie have. He hurt the team as much as he helped and was maddening to watch at times just like Kovalchuk could be. Guys like Stapleton and Stewart are better overall hockey players than the Maxs and Arties of the NHL. There is a reason that not only did ATL pass on them but every other team in the NHL did as well. I’ll take Tim and Tony over Max any day because they are likeable for what they do as a whole on the ice. I hope both get another shot to prove what they can do next year.

5 on 5 = 25

May 6th, 2011
9:26 pm

I just don’t see Staples seeing the roster on any other team in the NHL. I may be way off base.

B. Thenet

May 6th, 2011
10:53 pm

Nice to see you have plenty of time in your schedule to do a Winnipeg radio show.

Perhaps you could find the time to put something together for us on this relocation situation, if you have enough time.

5 on 5 = 25

May 7th, 2011
6:28 am

I agree. These 5 questions with the 4th line is rubbish. How about an update on the sale of the team?

Yuvno Ballzerdik

May 7th, 2011
9:55 am

Teams passed on those players, very true..but they’re also good examples of my point because I’m sure teams are obviously blowing up Dudley’s phone trying to acquire Tim Stapleton. Boston offered Chara and Lucic but we obviously wanted more value for tiny Tim because he’s “smart” and players like him.

Yep.

Seriously folks..stop being fed from the Thrasher tube. Stapleton and Stewart would be nothing more than brief call-ups due to injury on any other roster minus ours and the Islanders. Any other team would have sent Stewart down based on his lackluster effort and production the second half. I don’t care how smart he is, he is soft as butter. I’d take some departed players not to mention obvious available upgrades over these AHL’ers any day of the week regardless of what this organization tells you. You can’t polish a turd though our management seemingly has done a good of that according to some fans perspective on here, because I look at it and it still stinks and we still missed the playoffs with all these amazingly smart and likable players like Stewart and Stapleton.

Brendan

May 7th, 2011
4:22 pm

Is this the Stapleton that was part of the Exelby trade with Toronto? I ask, because if so, he’s the only remaining, traceable part of that deal, that sent Center Colin Stuart and Garnet Exelby to Toronto? Atlanta also got Pavel Kubina, who signed a 3-year deal with Tampa Bay. Who knows? Kubina might get his name on the Cup this year.

Re: Stapleton, he is filler material for the roster. I doubt anyone would honestly think … whether we make the playoffs or not hinges on Tim Stapleton.

Go Preds, tonight! Stave off elimination!!

Thrashers addict

May 8th, 2011
1:04 am

Burmi next…just what my daughter has been waiting for…

Chris Vivlamore

May 8th, 2011
6:13 pm

B. Thenet: Hope you listened to the radio interview in Winnipeg. I have done many over the last few months. Rest assured, if you listened or caught the link, I didn’t say anything that I haven’t written here many times as well. But gee, thanks for worrying about how I spend my off time.

Chris Vivlamore

May 8th, 2011
6:16 pm

5 on 5 = 25: When there is something to report, I will do so.