From the ODR’s, frozen lakes and numerous indoor rinks of North Bay, Ontario- all the way to the NHL, goaltender Ken Appleby has worked hard to get where he is. Holding a save percent (SV%) of 0.909 as of last month, the North Bay native signed to the New Jersey Devils undrafted on a three-year entry level contract in October 2015. The Devils taking a shine to him after attending a team development camp. Currently he is playing with the Devils top affiliate, team The Albany Devils in the AHL (American Hockey League). Yet last month, he got ‘the call’. New Jersey had recalled him as part of the line up for the game against Colorado Avalanche.
Prior to his signing he played three seasons in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) with the Oshawa Generals and had a very good junior career. The icing on the cake being, taking home the Memorial Cup in the 2014/15 season (his SV% being 0.924). The Memorial Cup being the championship of the CHL (Canadian Hockey League). The CHL being made up of three member leagues, Western Hockey League (WHL), OHL and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Over 60 teams are eligible to take home the cup, this I believe making The Memorial Cup championship probably one of the most difficult trophies to lift (and no not weight). HOWEVER, and I will comment I do quite like this set up the CHL have. In order to win the cup there is a round robin tournament of 4 teams: #1 team of each member league plus a host team (the host team having to place a bid). To have this championship on your playing career CV, bravo. Yet not only did Appleby help lift the trophy but he to was The Memorial Cups’ Most Outstanding goaltender.
1)What age did you start playing hockey and who was your idol at the time?
I started skating at the age of 3 and probably started playing hockey at the age of 5, and at the time my biggest idol had to have been my dad. My dad was the one who taught me how to skate, I would go watch him play his men’s league games all the time and of course at that age you always look up to your dad and think he’s the greatest at everything.
2)What has been your biggest challenge in your hockey career?
For me, one of the biggest off ice challenges in my hockey career so far was having to leave home at such a young age. I left my home in North Bay and haven’t really lived there since I was 15, besides going home for summers. In a way it’s been hard having to leave home at a young age but in another way it’s also been a blessing because it forced me to mature and grow as a person.
3) What differences do you notice between the CHL and AHL?
Biggest differences between the CHL and AHL would be the speed a which things happen at during games. But besides that another big difference would be that in the AHL you are playing with and against men, who are not only big and strong but also have families at home with their wife, kids and a dog or two which means they may not always be looking to hangout and play Xbox or whatever it is you do after practice. Whereas in the CHL you’re playing with guys a lot younger all somewhat within the same age as you. The biggest change jumping from league to league would have to be the speed of the game. Each level you move up in hockey you play with older, smarter, faster players which is why every level you move up things happen a split second faster.
4) Thoughts on NHL stating that clubs are against a mid-season break and will not be participating in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics?
I can understand the argument from both sides, I mean I don’t have much of an opinion on it because I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be participating in the Winter Olympics. However I understand that as a owner or GM I wouldn’t want to be losing my best players for an extended period of time not only because they are in fact the teams best players but also because they own the rights to those players and wouldn’t want them getting hurt during the tournament. I can also understand it from a players perspective though, because being able to represent your country and have the chance to win a gold medal would be an experience like no other.
5) You were signed on undrafted and passed over in the NHL draft for three years despite the great successes you had in your junior career. Would you say your personal journey to this level has added to the player you are today?
I like to think that my personal journey has added to the player I am today. I mean it has been a long road and there were times when I doubted myself after being passed over in the draft, but everything that has happened to me during my career I have just tried to make the most of it. And of course I have countless people that have attributed to my success, and the person/player I am today, who I could never have done all of this without.
6) Career highlight and lowlight?
Career highlight for me would have to be either winning the Memorial Cup in Oshawa and signing my first NHL contract with New Jersey. A career lowlight is a pretty tough one to think about I guess you could say after my first year of junior hockey or the whole year in general was a bit of a learning curve for me and I struggled with it, which eventually lead to me being passed over in the draft for my first year of eligibility.
7) What is your ultimate goal? (Excuse terrible pun)
My ultimate goal is to play in the NHL, have a long, solid and healthy career there and maybe even eventually leading to a Stanley cup.
8) Biggest life lesson hockey has taught you?
The biggest life lesson that hockey has taught me would be that nothing is given to you, everything has to be earned. Cliche I know, but still very true.
9) Favorite brand of equipment? Why?
Favourite brand of equipment would have to be Bauer. For the most part it is what I grew up wearing therefore it’s what feels comfortable for me.
Thank you Ken!