I wasn’t able to get in touch with Miami University head coach Rico Blasi before posting yesterday’s story on Jarod Palmer. But I did want to talk to him today to get a feel for what kind of player and person we can expect with Jarod Palmer, the most recent college free agent signed by the Wild.
Among other things, Blasi calls some of Palmer’s skills “absolutely stupid,” (he means that in a good way so he must be one of those hip coaches) and suggests his game is more tailored to the NHL style, than the college style.
Here are Blasi’s quotes from our interview today:
On Palmer seemingly very mature:
“He has matured so much over the last few years. He’s had a tough life, a tough family background. He’s the type of guy that you can have a conversation, and he’s going to be talking to you at a high level. He’s really mature, and he understands a lot because of what he’s gone through. He used to have a real hard time trusting people, and over the years he’s really developed that part of his life. He’s probably one of the most mature kids leaving our program that we’ve ever had.”
On his leadership role during this past season’s tragedy – the death of student manager, Brendan Burke:
“He was right there. If guys wanted to talk, as a senior he was right there at the forefront. He didn’t wear a letter because we didn’t have any assistant captains this year, but I think the players knew that he was a captain. He was very vocal, he led by example and he was there for everybody so there was no question that he was great through all of that.”
On his hockey ability and breakout senior season:
“He’s always been a skilled player, so that’s not even an issue. The stuff that he does on the ice is absolutely stupid. He can do things with the puck that many players can’t. The thing that he had to understand in his game was to simplify and understand when and when not to do it…When to dish, when to go to the net. It was the decision making. Although it can continue to get better, it is leaps and bounds better than where it was a year ago, and that’s the maturity in his game.
And he just came to work every day. He’s always working on things before practice. He’s constantly trying to help other players with their shot, or making tight moves or working along the wall. He’s just one of those guys that loves the game. If he’s not playing, he’s going to be coaching, or teaching, or working at some capacity in the game.
He’s really come into his own about what he can and can’t do with his skill set.”
On what he needs to do to get to, and stay at the NHL level:
“For me, knowing the guys that have played in the NHL that we’ve coached, he’s more of a controlled player than [former Wild draft pick and current Edmonton Oiler] Ryan Jones is.
I think the NHL might suit him better than the American Hockey League, because he is a control-type player. He’s not going to waste energy. He’s a great passer. He’s got a pretty good shot. He understands the game so he knows where to go offensively, defensively.
The college game, for a lot of reasons, probably didn’t suit him as well as the NHL will, because it’s helter skelter at times. And he’s all about controlling the play and making good decisions.
If there’s one thing I think he needs to continue to work on, it’s his speed. He’s not slow, and he’s got speed, but I think he can still gain another step.”