Voice of the Thunder Steve Schuster. He's shorter than he appears in this picture.Nothing brings more hits to Thunderbolts than a “Sitdown with Steve” segment. He used to go by simply “Rooster,” but Thunder broadcaster Steve Schuster has gone all Ochocinco and now just uses his given name. The most-recent Sitdown, last season, crashed the server at Schuster’s old frat house at Michigan. Let’s get started.
KL: It has been a while since your last appearance on the blog — last season, in fact. My people say you have been hard to negotiate with. What gives?
Schuster: I thought I was off the hook from having to do this anymore. I guess I was wrong.
KL: For me, being able to write about a winning team has been an uplifting experience. I’ve written several features, and there’s still numerous I haven’t gotten to yet. A lot of my readers tell me I have never been better, and I’ve gotten compliments from people outside the family, too. How is it for a radio guy? Does your voice sound more melodic when you are talking about a winner?
Schuster: You shouldn’t flatter yourself so much…Seriously though, this season has been a great experience for everyone in the organization. We all know how difficult the last three years have been, so just knowing the team has a legitimate chance to win every night has made things pleasant for everyone, from the fans, to the players, to the coaches, to the front office.
Marty Magers will not be sending chocolates to the Fort Wayne Komets for Valentine's Day.KL: OK, down to hockey. What is your take on the extracurricular activity at the end of the Fort Wayne game?
Schuster: It was just a good old hockey brawl. The suspensions are unfortunate, but it was really just a matter of teammates sticking up for each other. Marty Magers is a character guy, and I don’t think he would have come off the bench in that situation if he didn’t feel it was justified. Since Magers could never get to Fort Wayne’s goaltender, Galbraith and Tetrault stood up for him. Then Fort Wayne’s goaltender started gesturing toward the Thunder bench. It is almost a unversally accepted rule in professional sports that you do not show up guys on the other team, or try to make them look bad. Hockey players have as much pride as any type of athlete, so when Fort Wayne’s goaltender made those gestures, you couldn’t expect the Thunder bench to just sit there and take it, especially when there are no games left on the schedule between the teams. Richards and Goulet stepped in and did what they felt needed to be done. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s too bad the teams don’t play again in the regular season, as I think most would agree there is some unfinished business. But the fact that there are no scheduled games left against Fort Wayne would make a potential playoff series even more intense.
KL: Seems to me that the Thunder is fortunate that a guy like Kevin Beech was available to take Magers’ place. Every time the Thunder needs to make an acquisition, coach McClelland comes through. Thoughts?
Kevin McClelland knows Wayne Gretzky, who knows Janet Jones. (My fans can't get enough of that reference.)Schuster: It goes to show how valuable Mac has been in all facets of being a coach. In addition to being a great hockey mind, he brings an expectation of winning with him wherever he goes. When you combine that with the level of respect that other players and coaches have for him, it’s not surprising that high-profile talent has wanted to come to Wichita throughout the season.
KL: Now that the sound issues have been worked out, the interviews you do on the big screen at IBA are pretty entertaining. Best moment: When Bennefield said his favorite NHL player was Kevin McClelland. Who will we hear from this weekend?
Schuster: Ha ha. Yeah, I had a hard time keeping a straight face when he first gave that answer. We did about six or seven of them back in December and hope to play a new one for each homestand. It’s nice to hear a player’s take on non-hockey related subjects. As for this weekend? You’ll just have to wait and see.
KL: Your interviewing style reminds me a lot of Larry King’s. You have that clueless vibe thing going on, and your guests seem to respond. How did you develop that?
Schuster: It’s not a vibe. I am a clueless wreck.
KL: The weekend shapes up as being interesting, especially with the Thunder shorthanded. What are two things you’ll be watching for?
Schuster: Everyone knows which players are going to be sitting out, so the opposition may attempt to take their liberties knowing that Goulet and Richards are in the stands. That probably won’t be a good idea though, as there are still a number of players who are ready to stick up for their teammates if the other side decides to get loopy. Tetrault, Galbraith, Donaghy, and Greene all come to mind. I’m also curious to see how Jesse Bennefield and Tomas Klempa play on Friday night. Both are well-entrenched in their current environments, but you always have that bug in your head that you are facing the team that traded you. Both happened to score when the teams met in October, so we’ll see.
KL: If you were in a CHL fantasy draft and it was being held today, what Thunder player would you take first?
Schuster: There are a lot to choose from, but it’s hard not to pick Matt Robinson. He’s scored goals at an unconscious rate and has emerged as one of the best players in the league.
KL: I’m kind of juiced up about the Thunder’s first alumni game, but I haven’t heard much buzz about it. On a scale of 1-10, how much does the game interest you?
Schuster: How about 9.3? It should be a lot of fun for the players and fans. I’m definitely looking forward to it.
KL: Gelinas is exceeding all expectations. You and I have talked about whether he might hit some sort of rookie wall. He says he likes all the work, and he pointed out to me once that he played a ton in juniors. True, he played in 43 games once in juniors. Thoughts?
Schuster: I think he will be just fine. He’s logged a lot of minutes, but I don’t think he has been overworked by any means. The more you look at his numbers, the more impressed you are. He ranks in the top-10 in all of the major categories and won’t turn 22 until later this month. Other players have also taken notice of how well he carries himself off the ice, another plus for a rookie. He’s a guy I’m excited for, not only for the rest of the this season, but also in terms of what he can do in the future.