The Seattle Thunderbirds’ loss was Team Canada’s gain.
Following an entertaining, seven-game series loss against the Kelowna Rockets in the opening-round of the Western Hockey League playoffs, T-birds defenseman Shea Theodore plied his trade with Canada’s under-18 team at the World Championships in Sochi, Russia.
Theodore helped lead the Canadian squad to a gold-medal victory over the Americans in the final. It was an exciting finish to a season that saw Theodore establish himself as a potential first-round pick for the upcoming draft.
In this Q&A, which was held prior to April’s U18 tournament, Theodore discusses his biggest influence, the pressure of playing in front of scouts that will be scrutinizing his every move and which NHL stars he patterns his game after.
McKeen’s: Where did you play your minor hockey?
Theodore: I played all my minor hockey in Aldergrove, BC.
McKeen’s: What was the biggest adjustment you had to make from midget hockey to major junior?
Theodore: Definitely the defensive aspect of the game. You can’t, at this level, give up very many goals and expect to win. It just means that I have had to work very hard in my own zone.
McKeen’s: How does it make you feel that you are considered a top prospect for this year’s draft?
Theodore: It makes me feel good. I mean, you have to take things in stride and do the little things to help yourself improve. I mean, I guess it shows how hard I have worked to get to this point. However, I still need to work on a lot of aspects of my game to improve and get better.
McKeen’s: What is the strongest part of your game, and what are the things you want to work on?
Theodore: I would say my skating, along with my vision and passing, but I still want to work on my defensive positioning, and hopefully that will get me to the next level.
McKeen’s: Was there any set goals you wanted to achieve either personally or by the team this season?
Theodore: Not really. My goal was to help the team make the playoffs this season. For me, I think the points will come, so I really didn’t focus on any specific number.
McKeen’s: Watching hockey growing up on television, was there any player you admired and wanted to pattern your game after?
Theodore: I think guys like Mike Green of the Washington Capitals and Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators, offensive-style defensemen that have become part of the offensive elements of their teams. I want to be like those guys, as my style of play is offensive in nature.
McKeen’s: Building on that theme, you are known for your offense, and being able to contribute to the offense in both 5-on- 5 and power-play situations. How hard have you worked on your defense this year?
Theodore: Yes, I’ve been working very hard with the coaching staff, during and after practice, which include lots of video watching where I can learn from my mistakes, as it really helps with my positioning in the defensive zone.
McKeen’s: Does it bother you that a lot of scouts are watching you every night?
Theodore: A little bit, but you try not to worry a lot, you just have to focus on playing your game.
McKeen’s: Had you had any international experience at the under 18’s or under 17’s?
Theodore: I didn’t play at the U17’s, but I did play for Canada last summer at the U18’s. It was definitely a learning curve, and I gained valuable experience playing in that tournament on the world stage. I mean, just playing against the best players in the world has really made me aware of making my decisions on the ice a little more forthright, as you don’t have much time or room for error.
McKeen’s: What’s it like playing for coach Steve Konowalchuk and the Seattle Thunderbirds?
Theodore: He’s a great coach. He really gets down to the basics, and we have to play the systems that he has incorporated and if we do that, we should be able to win.
McKeen’s: Who has had the greatest impact of your hockey career to date?
Theodore: I would say my dad, he’s the hardest-working guy I know. He’s helped me a lot along the way to this very day. He is the one I really rely on, and the guy I want to make proud, and work hard for.
McKeen’s: What do you like to do in the off-season to relax away from the game?
Theodore: I like to play a lot of golf. I’m not very good, but it’s a lot of fun and relaxing.