Yes, another fine job from our Pens Universe readers leads to another great interview! Here is Wilkes Barre Scranton and future Penguin, Mark Letestu! Enjoy!
PU: Did you have a favorite team or player growing up? If so, which team or what player was that?
ML: My favorite team growing up was Montreal, my dad was a fan so of course i had to become one as well. My favorite player was Saku Koivu, he was a guy i have always looked up to.
PU: What would you say is your favorite AHL arena to compete in?
ML: Of course I enjoy Wilkes-Barre, that's a given, but outside playing at home I enjoy playing in Norfolk not sure why but I always seem to do pretty well in that building.
PU: What's the hardest part about going from the AHL to the NHL in regards to play of the game and lifestyle?
ML: The hardest part for me was the speed of plays the guys made, the actual skating speed wasn't a big problem but how fast scoring chances develop and players were able to execute on those opportunities, the chance to recover from missed steps or misreads is a split second. As it goes for lifestyle it's the pre game meals, chicken, steak, fish, so many options, in the American league its pasta and meatballs, better get used to it.
PU: I think it's safe to say all Penguins fans have noticed your impeccable face off skills. What makes you so good at winning face offs?
ML: Well thanks, a whole lot of cheating is probably the key to being good at face offs, being a smaller center it can be tough to beat some bigger centers with just straight up strength on strength, so any advantage I can get with stick and skate position I gotta take it, and also make nice with the linesmen they seem to give breaks to guys that don't tell them they suck all the time.
PU: How does it feel to be considered one of leaders on the team when you are named one of the Alternate Captains? Is there any extra pressure?
ML: It's always a nice feeling when your coaches and teammates choose you as a leader, its an honor and a privilege that I am pretty proud of. As for pressure I don't feel any extra pressure, the role doesn't mean I gotta be any different a player from what has gotten me to this point in my career.
PU: When losing a player like Luca Caputi, what do you guys as a team have to do to keep the same mentality as before the trade with under 20 games left in the regular season?
ML: We all know Luca was our leading goal scorer at the time and that he was a big part of our team, that being said we also understand that the goal is to win a Stanley Cup, and sometimes the AHL team is gonna lose some key components in order to get some pieces to win it. That being said it is an exciting time for other guys to step into more responsible roles and become the go to guys and fill some of the minutes that Luca occupied.
PU: Alright let’s go back to February 1st, your first NHL goal against the Buffalo Sabres , can you describe your feelings before, during and after?
ML: It is probably the coolest thing that has ever happened to me, the feelings at the time was holy crap I just scored, let out a bunch of man screams. When I got back to the bench I was so tired from all the hollering and celebrating I needed a solid 2 to 3 minutes to settle down again. Now I get a chance to reflect and its an emotional moment for my family and friends, a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to help that moment happen, I am extremely proud of it.
PU: Speaking of scoring goals, you are known for having some “unreal” goal celebrations, are they planned or spur of the moment? Do they have names?
ML: That's funny, no I never have planned them and definitely have never named one. I just enjoy the game and I get pretty amped up, whatever happens, happens, hopefully the fans like em, I just hope I never slip and fall embarrass myself or anything.
PU: You have to know that us hardcore fans give all players nicknames. So, rather than us making one up like "Marky Mark", what would you prefer to be called; what do you want your fans writing on their signs?
ML: I don't get a lot of signs, but my teammates call me Testy or Lester, both of those I will answer to, "Marky Mark" not so much but the last guy that had that name is doing alright, so who knows might be a good thing.
PU: In your opinion, who is the most humorous guy on the team and why?
ML: To me it is Wade Brookbank, he doesn't tell a lot of jokes or anything but he's pretty quick and he's got some good timing with the stuff that he says, probably gets me to laugh couple times a day with out ever trying to.
PU: Mark? huge fan. Listen, I will get half of my section (104) to contribute $100 a week to you if you stay in the W-B. What are your thoughts on that?
ML: Well that's awfully kind of you, and section 104, but you guys can keep your cash, I am hoping to be a Penguin one way or another for awhile, both cities and the whole organization have all been awesome to me and my family. That's a pretty good bribe though you should keep that deal waiting around and maybe you can lure some nice free agents this offseason.
PU: What do you love most about the sport of hockey?
ML: My favorite part is scoring and that it seems like there is an endless way for it to happen, every year someone somewhere seems to score a goal that still makes our mouths drop. Hopefully it can be me to make that happen in the near future.
As always, Thank you Mark for allowing us the time!
Here is a little taste of Letestu's goal celebrations
Here is a little taste of Letestu's goal celebrations