Pickard and grinning

KIRK PENTON, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Each week a Sun staffer gets to know a sports figure a little better in Up Close. This week, Kirk Penton crashes the crease to chat with Winnipeg netminder Chet Pickard, a first-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators who is in his rookie pro season with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals.

SUN: Since you're living in Milwaukee, have you come across Laverne and/or Shirley yet?

CP: No.

SUN: Do you know what that means?

CP: No, I don't know what that means.

SUN: I figured you might be too young. Seriously though, how is Milwaukee? Is it more like Winnipeg or Kennewick, Wash., where you played with the Tri-City Americans?

CP: It's a lot more like Winnipeg weather-wise. We've had some really cold days and some mild days, too. There's lots of rain, lots of snow. It's the lake-effect there, but it's not a bad city. It reminds of Winnipeg a lot from the pothole situation. Seriously, there's so many potholes there it's crazy. It might even be worse.

SUN: What goalie poster was -- or still is -- on your bedroom wall in your parents' house?

CP: Olie Kolzig was when I was younger. Right now in my stall in the rink here, Carey Price's. I cut a picture out of the paper and put it up in my stall. (Pickard was Price's backup in Tri-City.)

SUN: Who's better: You or your little brother, Calvin, who plays for the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds?

CP: Calvin's hot right now. I gotta pick my game up a little bit to catch him. He might have the edge on me right now.

SUN: How do your parents deal with having two budding goaltending stars?

CP: I think pretty good. They're obviously big supporters. It's a little stressful on my dad sometimes because he's really into it, but my mom seems to calm him down. My sister (Kelly) might actually be one of the worst because she gets right into it and stuff like that, so it's funny.

SUN: How much trash talking did you do in the summer after beating Calvin all four times you faced him last season?

CP: Quite a bit. But he still holds it against me, because I missed two games against him because I was injured. He figures he was going to beat me both those games. I got my wins against him while I could.

SUN: What is Chet short for, and how many other Chets have you met?

CP: I haven't really met any other Chets. I met one in Grand Forks a long time ago at a hockey store. Chet's not short for anything. Sometimes I joke around and say it's short for Chester.

SUN: Why were you born in Moncton?

CP: My dad worked for NAV CANADA, and we moved here (to Winnipeg) when I was nine.

SUN: How much has Moose goaltending coach Rick St. Croix helped your career?

CP: Lots actually. I still work for him in the summer at his camps. He's a great guy. I love Rick. I got to give him a wave today while he was watching, getting the scouting report on me at practice. I think he knows me pretty well. But I really like Rick. He's a great guy.

SUN: How many famous country singers have you met during your time in Nashville? I understand you're a country fan.

CP: I am a country fan. I haven't met anybody that famous. I've seen a lot. I saw Carrie Underwood behind a cage, I saw Dierks Bentley, I've seen Trace Adkins. I haven't really met any of them, though.

SUN: Did you see any of the world junior?

CP: Yes. It was tough. I was upset. Obviously the U.S. had a great team and were coached really well, too. We had a couple of U.S. guys on our team here, and we had a little rivalry. We were actually just keeping track of it on our phones because we had just finished a game in Cleveland. So it was crazy. I was getting texts ... 5-4, 5-5, in overtime, then it's 6-5 U.S. I almost started crying. Those (U.S.) guys were just going crazy.

SUN: Do you keep in touch with Dustin Tokarski, your Team Canada goaltending partner from last year?

CP: A little bit. I saw he got called up, so it's exciting for him. He's a great goalie, we had a great time together, playing against each other and all that. So I'm excited for him.

SUN: Who has the hardest shot?

CP: Cody Franson, a guy that plays with us. It's just ridiculous. His snap shot's harder than his slap shot. It might be harder than Shea Weber's shot, and Shea Weber's got a cannon. It's pretty impressive.

SUN: Which AAA hockey team cut you here in Winnipeg?

CP: Winnipeg Wild.

SUN: So you're anti-Winnipeg Wild?

CP: No, my brother played for them. He might be anti-Winnipeg Wild (points at Admirals teammate Colin Wilson). He got cut, too, at the same time.

SUN: Who's the most famous person in your cellphone?

CP: Carey Price.

SUN: What's a TV show you can't miss?

CP: Entourage.

SUN: Last song played on your iPod?

CP: Tik Tok, by Ke$ha.

SUN: Finally, when are we going to see you in the NHL?

CP: Hopefully as soon as possible. Obviously it's my goal to be there as quick as possible, but when I'm there I want to stay there. I don't want to be up and down. So when the time's right, I'll be there.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca


Photos