Players taken in the 4th Round face long odds to have successful NHL careers. In fact, only two of the 28 players taken in the 4th Round by the Senators (Ray Emery and Jean-Gabriel Pageau) have had NHL careers of more than 200 games.
We think it’s safe to say that Pageau and Emery will soon be joined by Ottawa’s 2017 4th Round Pick, Drake Batherson.
With 11 goals already this season – good enough to tie him with Sidney Crosby and Mitch Marner for 35thoverall – Batherson has established himself not only as an NHLer, but as an important piece of the core that the Senators fans hope will contend in a few years.
We caught up with Batherson to talk about his family, life growing up and about living out his dream in the National Hockey League:
Your father Paul played in the Senators organization and your uncle, Dennis Vial, was a fan favourite during his 5 seasons here in Ottawa. Did that make it any more special when you came to the organization?
Yea, it was pretty special. My uncle used to play for the Senators and my dad played for the minor league affiliate team for a year. I came here when I was 12 on a trip with my uncle. He brought me up for a couple of games. It’s funny, you come into the room now and it’s still the exact same.
Tell us about the 2018 World Junior Championships. You were a key part of Canada winning gold, scoring 7 goals in 7 games, how did it feel to win Gold for Canada and how big a moment was that for you?
It was unbelievable. Growing up in Canada, everyone watched the World Juniors. It is a family tradition for my family every Christmas, we watch the whole tournament. Being able to have the opportunity to play for them, let alone win the Gold Medal, has probably been the best experience of my hockey career so far, to be honest with you.
What, if anything, did your Uncle Dennis tell you about playing for Ottawa and living in Ottawa before you came to the city?
I know he liked his time here. He played here for five years, so
he was here for a long time and really liked the city.
I’m from a small town, so any city I go to I think is unbelievable. I love it here.
Speaking of your small town in the Maritimes, did you find coming to Eastern Canada was a change?
It’s a little different here. I mean, we don’t have a whole lot of restaurants in my hometown. So coming here, I get a little spoiled and get to go out to eat all of the time. It’s definitely a treat, and when I go back in the summer it’s very relaxing. I love it.
November 15th, 2018. You got to live a day that most Canadian kids only get to dream about. You play your 1st NHL Game, it’s a home game against an original 6 team, the Detroit Red Wings, with your family all up from Nova Scotia cheering you on. You score your first NHL goal. Do you remember what that felt like, and how you celebrated?
It was special, I scored right off a face-off in the second period. My whole family was sitting
behind the net. I think I had, like, 15 people at the game all sitting in the same row. When I went in I kind of blacked out, I got to the bench and I don’t even remember what I did for a celebration. But overall, it was a moment I’ll never forget.
What is it like for you to play in front of no fans this season? When we see it on TV, with the fake crowd noise and commentators, it’s sometimes easy to forget you guys are playing in an empty arena. What is that experience like for you and your
It’s a little different. The first couple of games without the fans was weird, but we’ve played so many games in such a short time, we don’t really notice it. We’re just so focused on what we gotta do during the game.
You do hear the odd fan noise they put in, but, I think you hear it more on TV than we do on the ice. It was a change at first, but now we’re used.
You’ve scored twice in your last 3 games, and you’re playing with a bit more confidence now. Where is your head at going forward?
Just getting used to the league. Whenever you come into a new league full time, there’s definitely some growing pains. But I’m focusing on playing with confidence.
Having chemistry with your linemates is also key in this. It’s hard to score, but the more confidence and chemistry that you play with leads to more scoring opportunities. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on. And my linemates have been awesome.
Tell us about that incredible 6-5 win over Toronto this past week. What was it like for you as a player? Was there something someone said in the intermission that really fired you guys up?
I haven’t been a part of a comeback like that in a really long time, maybe three or four years. And I think it was the first time in franchise history that they came back from that big of a deficit.
We scored a goal at the end of the second to make it 5-2. Going into the intermission, they just said “keep playing, you never know what could happen.”
We scored a goal right off the bat and then got one late to tie it up and then the overtime goal was awesome.
The boys are pretty fired up and happy to get that win, for sure.
Tell us about some of the guys on the team. Who, would you say, is the funniest guy on the team?
We have a lot of different characters on the team. You get a mix of all different types of people.
There’s a few funny guys. Nick Paul is always making people laugh. He’s never had a bad day at the rink, he’s always in a good mood. There’s so many guys like that, young guys I’ve played with in the minors, and guys I’ve played with in bits and spurts up here in the last two years. We have a great room and we have a lot of fun every day.
Do you have a favourite Netflix Show or movie? What’s your recommendation to anyone reading this?
That’s pretty good (laughs). I’ve probably watched Prison Break on Netflix three or four times, the full thing. I love it.
Favourite movie….I liked the Dumb and Dumber movies. Those are always classics. Not a big movie guy, to be honest. I like watching Netflix shows more.
What’s your go to pre-and-post game meals?
Before every game I like penne with rose sauce with a little chicken. Maybe a salad.
After the game, there’s always pizza in the room so I have a slice or two of that. And maybe a steak… if we’re getting spoiled (laughs).
We want to get to know you off the ice a bit. What are your hobbies? Do you play Fortnite with some of your other teammates?
Yea, I’ve played Fortnite for a long time. It was more of a thing in my first year of pro and now I think a lot of the guys are on the Call of Duty train. We’re playing all the time. We’re stuck at home, so there’s not much else to do.
Are you big into fashion? What’s your thing?
I like a little bit of fashion. I’m not the best dressed guy on the team, but I like shoes. I’m a big shoe guy. I probably have about 40 or 50 pairs. I have a big collection… my mom gives me heat for buying new shoes all the time.
I’m definitely not up there in style, but I like having a few nice things, for sure.
How have you enjoyed Ottawa as a city? Any favourite spots to go to?
I love it. This year we’re not really allowed to go anywhere but my favourite place for lunch is Pestos. It’s a deli sandwich place in Kanata. I mix it up for super, I live out in Kanata so I like going to Moxies for dinner, or Fratelli’s.
Lastly, what is your best advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
I’ve had a lot of passion for the game. I’ve been cut from teams my whole life, and I just kept playing. I think I mostly play for the fun of it, I love competing.
Never give up on your dream, and work hard. And have fun. It’s pretty cliche, everyone says to have fun, but it really is about that. We all play in the NHL and we’re still having fun every day and working hard, so that’s my advice.