Stevens Point native Cole Caufield was selected 15th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL draft. Last weekend, Caufield spoke to NewsChannel 7 over the phone in an exclusive interview about what it means to him to be drafted, how important it is to carry on his family legacy, and his excitement level to play college hockey at Wisconsin this upcoming year.
You can listen to the interview above or read below. The interview has been condensed for length and clarity.
Matt Infield: I imagine it’s been a whirlwind since being drafted. How would you describe it in your own words?
Caufield: Yeah it’s been super exciting, obviously it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to be drafted and have that experience. I mean just to be able to celebrate with my family and friends there, it’s a dream come true. I just try to enjoy the moment and slow it down, because it only happens once.
MI: You’re a first round NHL draft pick, what does that mean to you simply?
Caufield: Yeah, I mean you dream about it as a kid. So to have it become reality is just so special, and it means so much to my family and I. It’s probably the greatest feeling in the world.
MI: Obviously you slid a little bit compared to where you were projected to go. What kind of mindset are you in? Is that going to put a chip on your shoulder that you think can ultimately help you down the road?
Caufield: Yeah I think I believed in myself that I should’ve gone higher. But after everything happened, I looked at it like I still got called by a great team and a great fit for the way I play.
I think I’m going to have a lot of success there. You know they’ve got a great organization and staff there (in Montreal). I mean I can’t complain at all, I got picked into the National Hockey League, so it doesn’t get any better than that.
MI: What team did you grow up rooting for?
Caufield: I grew up watching the (Colorado) Avalanche a lot, my dad’s a Colorado fan. But I told him now he’s got to turn into a Montreal fan because that’s my favorite team.
MI You’re going to the organization with by far the most Stanley Cups ever, with an incredibly decorated and celebrated history. What kind of added significance does that take on for you?
Caufield: Obviously growing up that’s kind of the first team you hear about with all their history and their great legacy. Just to go to an organization with first-class staff, they’ve got everything you need there. So the great names and legends that have played there and come through there with so much success is really cool to look at.
It’s kind of just something that you never think would happen, and somehow it did, so I couldn’t be happier.
MI: They obviously have a great history, but what about the organization in its current state excites you most about going there?
Caufield: They’ve had a lot of recent successful draft picks, I just want to be a part of that and part of their future. I think they have a lot of great young talent and some vets that know how to win and know what to do to get things done. So I couldn’t be happier to go to such a great team and great organization, like I said I’m probably the most excited kid in the world right now.
MI: It doesn’t matter where you’ve gone, you’ve dominated everywhere despite your size. Why do you think teams still get hung up on that?
Caufield: You know I don’t really have an answer for that. You know I don’t think it’s a risk anymore, I guess some teams that passed on me do. That’s their choice, I can’t control that, so I couldn’t be happier with the team that chose me, just to know that they wanted me.
I don’t think size is a risk factor anymore, I think I can still make an impact on the game, there are guys in the NHL doing that right now. In my opinion it’s not a big deal, the way the game is changing it’s more (about) speed and skill. So I think if I bring that to the table and keep working hard at that I should be fine and there shouldn’t be any problems.
MI: You are a lethal goal scorer, why in your own words?
Caufield: In my mind, I think it’s how special my brain is. I think most people can probably shoot the puck, but I think the way I find spaces on the ice and little pockets to get open to get myself in a situation or area to put myself in a position where I can score from anywhere, I think that’s what’s so special about my goal scoring ability.
I think my shot release is probably the quickest in the draft this year, and I’m only going to continue working on it and I’m going to do everything I can do to get better from here.
I’ve got a lot to work on, but I believe in myself and I’m really confident in my goal scoring ability and that it’s going to translate to any level that I play at. I’m just going to keep adapting and keep trying to take on new challenges.
MI: You got a shout-out from Plover’s very own and fellow SPASH alum Joe Pavelski, what was that like for you?
Caufield: Obviously he’s probably the biggest name to come out of this area. Just having him support me and to have him reach out to me is something special and something that I’ll never forget. I’m looking forward to seeing him this summer down in Madison, he’ll be training down there, so I’ll get to talk to him and learn some things from him. It’s obviously special when someone like that reaches out to you.
MI: Transitioning to Madison, what excites you most about going there?
Caufield: I’m really excited about this upcoming hockey season. This team is on the rise right now. We’ve got a bright future with a lot of young guys bringing excitement to the building. I think the fans see that, they come out and support us because I think it’s going to be really exciting hockey to watch. I don’t think they’ll have a bad time if they come to watch the Wisconsin Badgers this year.
MI: Your brother (Brock Caufield) is going to play there with you right?
Caufield: Yeah he’ll be there too, and that’s another reason why I’m so excited. To play with him and to have my family two hours away, a short drive that they can some see us at every home game.
MI: How important has your brother been throughout this whole process?
Caufield: He’s been awesome. He’s been the rock that I lean on and someone that I go to for advice all the time. I mean just to have him, and have him support me there and be through it all, he’s done that his whole life.
He’s pushed me to be even better, and he’s probably brought out the most competitiveness in me. I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me and my hockey career so far. I’m really looking forward to playing with him because I think he’s such a great player and he deserves the best, and I hope this year we can have a lot of fun together.
MI From your brother, to your dad (Paul Caufield, former UWSP hockey assistant), to your grandfather (Wayne Caufield, member of the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame), you come from a very proud Wisconsin hockey family. How much weight do you bear to continue to carry the torch for the Caufield name in Wisconsin?
Caufield: Obviously with my grandfather passing away last summer, it’s become a bigger deal to me than ever. Just knowing what he meant to us and the family, and just trying to keep on this legacy that we’ve created here is so special to us.
I just want to keep being positive, and keep doing things that people say I can’t. So yes I want to prove people wrong, but I want to do it in a good way. I want to keep proving myself and just showing myself that I belong, and just keep working hard, because if I do that I think everything will turn out alright.
MI: When you go to Madison, where do you hope to grow the most as a player during your time there?
Caufield: I’m really looking forward to the weight training. Obviously the hockey part and being on the ice will take care of itself. I mean for me personally I want to keep getting stronger and faster. With the great facilities they have there as long as you’re working hard and doing the right things with your body you really can’t mess up.
I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of all the resources that they have there and getting my body bigger and stronger and faster, because you can never be enough of those things. It’s only going to improve me, and I’m really looking forward to getting down there and start training.