Big Ben Bishop is the talk of the town.
The Senators new goaltender, acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 26, is a perfect 2-0 with Ottawa, including a 4-1 victory over the first place New York Rangers in Bishop’s home ice debut Thursday night.
On Saturday, Bishop will start again against the Buffalo Sabres, expected to go with USA Olympic starter Ryan Miller.
Bishop, 25, is a native of St. Louis, and the tallest goaltender in the NHL. On Friday afternoon following practice, he cleared some equipment off his dressing room stall to make room for me, my notepad and this Q and A.
You were a forward until age 8, what made you switch to goaltender?
B.B. : Everybody took a turn playing goalie, and so it was my turn, and I was pretty good, so the coach was kind of like, “we’re not going to win unless you play (goal)” and I guess my dad told me that he really liked how I got to play the whole game and didn’t have to come off.
How often do you get asked how tall you are?
B.B.: A lot. It probably averages out to once a day.
Does it bother you?
B.B. No, you just kind of laugh. It’s one of those questions you expect. You can’t let it bug you, otherwise, you’d be bugged a lot.
So, for the record, how tall are you?
No fractions in there?
B.B.: I don’t know. I don’t even know the last time I was measured. Maybe we could do it after this little meeting. An official measurement for the media.
Is size always an advantage to a goalie, or can it be a disadvantage?
B.B.: I think it’s an advantage. I don’t think there’s anything that a smaller guy can do that I can’t. And there’s many things I can do that he can’t. I mean, I like to think I’m just as athletic as those small guys, if not more athletic, so I don’t think it’s a disadvantage.
Did you gain notoriety from the Texas Tornado brawl (see Youtube)?.
B.B.: Oh yeah, people love that. That was a blast. It was a great year of my life down there, it was a great group of guys, we won a championship, I had a fight. I don’t know if it would be that cool without the announcer (Alex Kyrias), he made that fight. (“Get in there, Ben, fight!!”)
Which NHL goalie would you not want to fight?
B.B. (Ray) Emery.
Who’s your closest friend in hockey?
B.B.: Probably Patrik Berglund of the St. Louis Blues. We were roommates in St. Louis.
Your all-time favorite memory in the game?
B.B.: I have a few. My first NHL game was big (Oct. 24, 2008), growing up in St. Louis, you never really think you’re going to play for the Blues. Winning a (NAHL) championshipo in Texas. And then going to the Frozen Four twice, with the University of Maine, and one of those times it was in St. Louis, so that was pretty neat.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career?
B.B.: Definitely I would say my parents. They’re there for you every step of the way. Dressing you when you’re four years old and you can’t tie up your skates, driving you to practice at 5 o’clock in the morning. They’re still there for me today. I don’t think they’ve ever once told me I’ve had a bad game. It’s nice to have that in your corner.
Best advice for a young goalie?
B.B.: Just have fun. I think there’s too many people asking about technique and all that, but you don’t really need to get into that until you’re older. Just have fun when you’re a kid. If you have the skill set to move forward then start thinking about that.
If you could have dinner with any three people, living or long gone, who would it be?
B.B.: George Washington. Maybe a movie star, Justin Timberlake or Matthew McConaughey, one of those guys, they seem like they’re beauties, and probably whoever the president is (of the day). I’d like to know some of the secrets of Area 51 (highly classified military base in Nevada), what they know, if it was a tell-all.
And on the menu?
B.B.: Definitely filet mignon. Maybe twice-baked potato or sweet potato and broccoli.
B.B.: Cheesecake. I try not to eat it, but it’s my favourite.
Ben Bishop the first (grandfather) played in the U.S. Open as a pro. Would Ben I be proud of Ben III’s tennis skills?
B.B.: He would tell me I have some work to do. Even now when we go out, he still works me pretty good. He doesn’t have the movement, but he can still place his shots.
Best personal quality?
B.B.: Sometimes my temper.
Who was your first love?
B.B. Probably my dogs (cockapoos and cocker “somethings”). Back in the day, Mollie, Cody, Scooter, Louie.
B.B.: 1993 Ford Explorer.
B.B.: Black (Chev) Tahoe.
Your most prized possession?
B.B. Everybody calls me Bish, usually, but ‘Big Ben’ is kind of coming along.
B.B.: I like the Dave Matthews Band.
B.B.: The Miracle is pretty good.