Keith Aulie Interview – the MLA Leftovers


Photo: Hans Deryk/Reuters

More Maple Leafs Annual bonus feature material for your enjoyment. Interview conducted by Steve Dangle. Be sure to check out the Reimer interview if you missed it earlier today.

Steve: Don’t you think that’s kind of funny though that while other guys are spending their summer relaxing, you’re out farming?

Aulie: Yeah, it’s just a way of life I guess. I like to do lots of other things other than just hockey. I like to get away from the game a little bit in the summer and do some other things and especially help out with the farm. I think it’s a good way to get a different mindset for a while, and when you jump back into the game you’re really refreshed. Farming’s got its own challenges and it’s kind of neat to work on something else for a bit.

Steve: You’ve always seemed to like that sort of thing. The first time I met you, you didn’t know what Twitter was. You figure that out yet?

Aulie: I guess I kind of figured out what it’s about. Just being a small-town kid and being from the country, we live a simple life, so to speak. All this other stuff that goes on, I don’t have much interest in.

Steve: You fish in the summer. Catch anything good?

Aulie: We caught a lot of 40, 40+ inch pike. That was probably the highlight.

Steve: You started off with the Marlies. What was your experience on that team like? You had already played some AHL on Abbottsford.

Aulie: Can’t say enough about the coaches and the guys down with the Marlies. They do a great job down there developing guys. I know they had a bit of a tough year at the end of the year too, but they just do so much for you as far as developing you and getting you ready for the NHL. My time down there was great. I went up for, I guess it was all month there, and then I came down for a while. After that I knew that I just needed to be in the NHL and I was going to do anything possible to get back there. When I got called back up I knew what to expect and I knew exactly what I needed to do out there every shift and it just made it that much easier for me.

Steve: Do you remember your first NHL goal? How did that play happen?

Aulie: I was out with our fourth line with the Jay Rosehill, Tim Brent, Mike Brown line. They were cycling down low on New York. I think it was Browny that went behind the net and backhanded it out. It went off Rosey’s skate right to me at about the top of the circle or maybe closer into the slot. I just remember thinking ‘oh this is a good opportunity’ and I got in there and just tried to get her on net * laughs * it was kind of a rolling puck so I just tried to direct her at the net and it ended up going just over it shoulder. That was a pretty good feeling. A lot of players look forward for their first goal – I do – but just being a different player I wasn’t like anxiously waiting for it, I just kind of took it when it came and it was a pretty awesome feeling nevertheless.

Steve: Didn’t you have your first goal disallowed at some point during your first recall?

Aulie: Oh yeah, I think that was maybe my second game or something. I shot one from the point and I can’t remember. I think it might have went off of Orrsy or whatever. I think the call was Orrsy interfered with the goalie but I think it if was called a goal it actually went off Orrsy. It would have been my first assist maybe anyways, but that doesn’t count.

Steve: How do you remember your first fight? It got you a pretty good nickname.

Aulie: Well, it was between me and Hartnell and we were just in each other’s face the whole night playing against each other. I don’t know exactly how we got paired against each other but we were going at each other all night and hitting each other. Tempers were flying and then all of a sudden it just erupted and we tossed the mitts. It was fun. I don’t pride myself as a fighter or anything but it was fun to just let lose and give’er a go there.

Steve: Aren’t MacArthur and Hartnell pretty good friends?

Aulie: Yup I think they’re really good buddies.

Steve: Did Clarke still congratulate you after the fight?

Aulie: Oh yeah, he loves that. He likes to do that stuff himself when he gets mad.

Steve: What was your proudest moment this past season?

Aulie: Probably my first game. That was just so overwhelming, being Saturday night against Vancouver and it was Hockey Night in Canada and everything else. My family and stuff got down to see it and that was a pretty cool experience.

Steve: Who are some of the guys that helped you the most in the NHL?

Aulie: Dion helps me a ton. When I played with him at the end of the year he’s always on you, telling you little things and helping you out, showing you the ropes. A guy like Beauchemin when I was up my first time helped me out quite a bit. He’s just an older guy that’s been around a lot. I learned a lot from the way he carries himself and the way that he plays the game.

Steve: What can you tell me about James Reimer in your time spent with him on the Marlies and with the Leafs?

Aulie: Kind of what you see is what he’s actually like all the time. He’s just a real calm, composed guy. He’s got some really strict values and hard work. Real honest guy. What you see on the ice is more of the same. He’s always been calm and composed in there, knows what he wants, knows what he has to do. Just so focused in the game and between periods. You see him before games he’s so focused and he knows he’s gonna have a big game. You saw how good of a last part of the year he had there. It all comes down to how had he’s worked for it and how focused he is. He’s an awesome guy; he’s one of the best guys to have around just because he’s got those values where he’s so honest and so hard-working.

Steve: What kind of role has your family played in your early career?

Aulie: There’s a lot of different families when you’re growing up. Some hockey dads and moms are really involved in their games and always trying to coach you and everything else. I would say my mom and dad are absolutely the opposite. They just let me play the game and they always got me to everything I needed to go to and whether I wanted to play in summer tournaments or whatever it was they were always supportive of that, but they always stayed back when it came to coaching. When it came to on-ice stuff they always just kind of let it play out. They were never too nosey, which I admire looking back. You see a lot of parents and they’re so nosey nowadays and I just think it’s hard on the kid and it’s just extra stress that they don’t need. That role that they played was huge and no player would be where they are now if it wasn’t for their parents. So much credit goes to them.

Steve: It’s interesting you say that. I was just talking to my buddies at the cottage this past weekend about that we know so many talented guys playing like AAA, Junior A and whatever and they just dropped it because their parents were too in their face.

Aulie: You get these dads and moms that are trying to live their careers through their kids and it just doesn’t work. It becomes not fun for the kids. If there’s one thing I would hope on a kid it’s that their parents just support them and let the things on the ice just play out.