Friend of the blog Terry Watt is having quite the year. He’s currently on his third team and third country in just 6 months. Little did he know that as a young Watt growing up in Ajax, Ontario, he would one day be taking his hockey talents to almost every part of the globe.
After spending most of his early career in the Federal Hockey League and Southern Professional Hockey League, Watt made the jump down under this past summer and made his debut in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League with the Canterbury Red Devils. With Defenseman of the Year honours and an NZIHL championship under his belt, the ice from France came calling.
However his adventures in France were short-lived as former Red Devils head coach Anatoli Khorozov saved him a spot with his new found team in Kazakhstan, Beibarys Atyrau. He now skates alongside Olympians and former NHlers. Not bad for a kid from Ajax. I caught up with him to see how his Kazak adventures are fairing out.
March Hockey: How different is it playing in an up and coming hockey country such as Kazakhstan?
Terry Watt: First of all, playing here is a tremendous honor. I’m a player that has been given a really good and rare opportunity to play with and against some elite hockey players. The hockey here is really fast and filled with lots of skill. To be able to practice and learn every day from guys who have played in the Olympics, NHL and KHL is a bit surreal for me considering almost a year ago I was playing Single A pro back in North America. One thing that is noticeably different is that everything we do here is monitored and written down. Every day at practice we all wear heart monitors and our recover time is noted in every situation we do. The big thing for me this year is to just be a sponge and absorb as much information and learn as much as I can from these guys and try and translate it into my game to hopefully become a better player moving forward.
March Hockey: This is your third team and third country this year. What are some of the differences and similarities between them, hockey wise?
Terry Watt: Playing here is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The hockey on and off the ice is very demanding. It is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do physically and mentally. With the exception of myself, all the Canadians on my team have played in the NHL, AHL, ECHL and CHL – from what they tell me, playing here is very comparable to those leagues in many regards for the exception of the NHL .
Each day we are usually at the rink for roughly 7-9 hrs. Some days we have two practices. When we aren’t practicing we are in the gym lifting or on the ice we are doing some type of aerobic workouts. Back in North America most pro teams practice in the mornings and then are done for the day; however some guys head to the gym for a work out, but after that their day is pretty much done. In Kazakhstan they take care of us pretty well. We have all our meals catered, and even at times brought to the rink so we don’t lose any time practicing or preparing for our next game. I’ve only been here for just under a month and I will be traveling with the team for the first time this week. We are going on a two week road trip where we will play 6 games all through the country. The guys tell me that they spend hours on planes and even some 36 hour train trips to games – so conditioning is going to play a huge role in me getting use to the Olympic size ice and intense travel schedule. These are just a few things that separate the difference in hockey here oppose to back in North America. The simple answer to your question is that this experience is something completely new to me.