Q & A with Leafs prospect Greg McKegg

During the 2012 MasterCard Memorial Cup, Leafs Nation’s Andrey Osadchenko was able to catch up with Leafs prospect Greg McKegg of the London Knights. McKegg was selected in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft as a member of the Erie Otters. He was traded to London in the middle of the 2012 season and was part of the team that won the OHL Championship.

– How much do you think you role has changed in London comparing to Erie where you were the captain?

A little bit, I guess. But I still think I brought some of the same qualities over. Obviously in Erie I was more of a goal-scorer. Especially, this season because the team was so young. Then I came here and the team was so deep. It changed a bit but I still brought some of the same qualities over.

Were you sad to leave the Otters?

A little bit, yeah. I spent with them 3.5 years. It’s a great team and it’s a fun place to play.

What happened to the Otters this season? Personally, in 35 games you were ‘-39’ in plus-minus.

Like a said, it was just a young team. We had a lot of injury problems and it seemed nothing could go right for us. This is really how this year went for them. Maybe they can catch luck next year.

Ramis Sadikov was one of the few players who stayed with the Otters and he said that he had no respect in the team because all of the guys he’s played with for a long time were gone. Do you feel lucky you got out of this organization?

I talked to him after I’d left. He did seem a little lonely. I think there were 12 rookies at one point on the team. That’s just the way it goes. They were rebuilding team and it sucks to be in that position.

How different are the Knights from Otters? You didn’t play so called ‘Hunter Hockey’ in Erie.

It’s a different story here. London is a winning organization and Erie was one in the past. The Knights continue to produce every year. I enjoyed playing for both teams but in London we were competing for the OHL championship.

On the other hand, could you really feel like a leader in London? Because that’s who you were in Erie.

Yes. They brought older guys like me and Austin Watson to help young guys but they obviously had leaders before that. I think that all in all I feel a little bit like a leader here.

– Is the atmosphere at the home games in London a lot different comparing to Erie?

It is. The atmosphere in London during the playoffs was amazing. So it was in Erie, but I’ve never gotten there past first round. The fans were still great, though. But having 9,000 extremely loud fans in the building is pretty exciting to be playing in front of.

– Were the Leafs happy about your move to London?

Yes. They were really happy about what happened because I could get a valuable playoff experience and the Memorial Cup experience. This is something I can benefit from in the next few years.

How close are you with the Leafs at this point?

During the whole season we’ve been talking and emailing. We talked a lot but once I’ve gotten far into the playoffs they just let me do my own thing.

Last season you played two games for the Marlies and scored a goal. How did that feel?

It was a good experience to get up there and play at that level and against those type of players. It’s kind of an eye-opener in the first game but once I’ve adjusted I felt a lot more confident.

Would you say it’s easier to play at the pro level than it is in juniors?

I think in some aspects it is. It seems up there everyone knows their systems well. While in juniors sometimes it’s a little scrambly out there. At the pro level it’s a lot more organized – passes are on the tap and everyone knows where everyone’s going to be. That kind of thing. This is why it’s maybe a little easier.

Did you keep the puck after you scored your first AHL goal?

I did. They gave me the puck. It was taped and had the date on it. That was kind of cool.

What was the training camp with the Leafs like?

I’ve been to 2 of them. Each time you go, you get a little bit more experienced and it makes it easier next time you go because you know what to expect. Like I said, going to my first training camp was an eye-opener for me. Second year was more comfortable. I kind of settled in.

This season the Leafs really had a locker-room of 40 players rather than 20 because so many of them went up and down. Do you feel lucky to be a part of an organization like this?

Yes. I think this one of the coolest things about Toronto. They really give a chance to a lot of guys to play at the NHL level. They’re doing a great job with the Marlies right now. That’s something I’m lucky to be a part of.

You grew up in Ontario. Were you a Leafs fan?

I was actually the opposite way. I was a Wings fan. In my family we were never Leafs fans. We always cheered for the Wings. It’s a huge rivalry. But my mom and dad now converted to Leafs fans. It’s kind of funny.

– I’ve noticed you have a Blue Jays cap on. How do you feel about Leafs fans are converting to Blue Jays fans?

The way I see it is that the Leafs Nation is pretty strong and pretty cool. It was crazy to get drafted by the Leafs. But at the same time it really cool to see the Blue Jays doing so well. They’ve struggled for a bit, but now they’re doing well again.

– People joke about your name bringing up one of the Simpsons episodes saying: ‘Well, if it isn’t my old friend Mr. McKegg with a leg for an arm and an arm for a leg?’. Is this something you here often?

I heard it a few times and I’ve seen the episode. It’s pretty funny, actually. Because I never put it together when I watched it. It’s pretty funny. I don’t hear too often but it always makes me giggle when I do. I don’t mind it. I’ve always enjoyed the show, so it’s kind of cool.

– You hardly ever use tweet anything. Yet you have a twitter. Why?

– I really don’t have a lot to tweet about most of the time. I’m not one of those guys who tweets everything he’s doing. I use it mostly to read other people. I enjoy it. It’s a useful device.

How far away would you say you are from the NHL?

It’s to pinpoint a certain time but I feel I’m getting closer. Winning the OHL championship and being at the Memorial Cup were 2 great experiences that helped me to get better than I was. I feel like I’m getting to a closer reach.

What can you bring to the table for the Leafs? What kind of player do you see yourself as?

I’m trying to be a 2-way forward. Because that’s what it takes to get to the next level. You have to be strong at both ends. You have to be responsible in defense and productive in offense. I feel like I’m getting close to that.

Would you call this season successful for yourself?

Yes. I think if you win the OHL championship, you can’t say it’s an unsuccessful season.

Do you feel frustrated you didn’t play for Team Canada at the 2012 World Juniors?

This tournament is what you watch at Christmas growing up. So, yes, it was frustrating not to get called. But I think being at the Memorial Cup kind of makes up for it. It’s a similar stage and something pretty special.

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  • Wanyes bastard child

    Is it just me or did McKegg not look interested at times? I just had this feeling that he sulked and floated a bit this season when I had a chance to watch him.