by Patrick Hoffman on 09/05/12 at 08:00 AM ET
When one retires from hockey, it is hard to stay away from the game one grew up playing and loving for so many years.
Mark Mowers, the newest pro scout for the Montreal Canadiens, knows the feeling. This is why he is happy to be back with an NHL team, which is something Mowers missed a lot when he retired from the game several years ago.
Mark was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to tell us about how he got into hockey, what it was like to play in the NHL and overseas, and what he will be doing in his new role with the Canadiens.
PH: How did you get into hockey?
MM: My family moved to upstate NY when I was 3 and my parents just got me involved. A bit strange because neither played hockey, just hockey fans.
They would spend hours building the outdoor rinks each winter and I guess I never looked back.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team/player? Why?
MM: My favorite team growing up was whoever Wayne Gretzky played for. So obviously it was Edmonton at first, then it was the Kings. Once he went to St. Louis, he kind of lost me. I also remember having posters of Guy Lafleur and Brett Hull.
PH: At what point in your life did you know that you wanted to be a professional hockey player?
MM: I didn't really think about playing pro until after my freshman year at UNH. But even then, I focused on playing college hockey because I didn't want to get distracted by the future. But I did realize that year that I could play with/against some of the better players in the NCAA. So I guess that was the point when I felt a career in pro hockey could be possible.
PH: What was it like to play college hockey with the powerhouse University of New Hampshire? How did playing for UNH prepare you for professional hockey?
MM: I have some of my greatest hockey memories playing for the Wildcats. UNH has such a family atmosphere when it comes to the hockey program as well as the university.
The atmosphere for the games at The Whitt was like nothing I have ever experienced. I remember the rivalry games with Maine and BU like it was yesterday. As far as how it helped me transition as a pro, I think it was 50/50 between maturing as an individual and also developing as a player. I learned specific skills on the ice and also how to play as a five man unit.
As a person is where I felt I made the strongest gains. I learned how to deal with adversity, how to become mentally strong, and how to become a man (my friends will laugh at that one).
PH: What was it like when you stepped on the ice for your first NHL game with the Nashville Predators in the 1998-99 season? What do you remember most about it?
MM: I have to admit my first game was a blur...I can't even remember who we played. But I do remember I only played like three shifts.
My fondest memory after jumping off the plane from Milwaukee and stepping into the locker room, was seeing my jersey hanging up next to Cliff Ronning and Tom Fitgerald. That is when I knew everything was real.
PH: You also played professional hockey overseas for several seasons? What was that experience like for you?
MM: I was fortunate to play almost 4 seasons in Switzerland. It was a great experience for myself and my family.
The hockey is extremely fast but the north american style is slowing taking over. The fans are insane with their whistling at the refs and fireworks that they easily bring into the arenas. One must go see a game to get the true effect.
Sunday's were usually an off day when all the shopping shuts down, but the Swiss Alps were open. We would usually drive into the mountains on Sunday's and just relax.
PH: Recently you were named to be a pro scout for the Montreal Canadiens? How did this gig come about for you?
MM: I soon realized after my playing days were over that I missed being part of a team. Although it is completely different than playing, I am so excited to be part of an NHL team again.
I started to send my hockey resume out to several teams back in the winter and also connecting with any personnel or ex-teammates that are currently working for NHL teams. I just explained my interest in joining an NHL club if a position was vacant. That is basically how it happened. "Networking".
PH: As pro scout for the Canadiens, what will some of your responsibilities be?
MM: Although our first scouting meeting is approaching, I think it's safe to say that my responsibilities will be to know 10-15 pro teams (in the northeast) inside and out for trade and free agency purposes. Other than that, I will find out in a couple weeks.
PH: How do you think your experience in the NHL as a player/analyst will help you in your new position for the Canadiens?
MM: I know that being an ex-NHL player doesn't qualify you to be a good coach, scout, mgr., etc. But I do know that I have learned a lot through the years while being on some good and not so good teams. And within those teams I've played with many different types of players with different qualities and definciencies.
I feel that those experiences will help me when looking at players and making strong suggestions on which ones can help the Montreal Canadiens.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.