SUNDAY Q & A WITH CODY KUNYKDec 18, 2016
A newlywed, with a new team, in a new hockey year, so much about Comets' winger Cody Kunyk is filled with high expectations. Fresh off a season skating in Europe, Kunyk continues to familiarize himself with teammates and Utica. With one NHL game logged, Kunyk remains hopeful of a repeat performance.
Q: Last season you played in Germany and Denmark. This season, a couple games in Alaska, but back in Utica. Are you settled in yet?
A: Well, (laughs), we're still living out of our suitcases.
Q: You were married last summer. Has your wife adapted to all the travel?
A: Life's interesting. She has been enjoying our stops.
Q: You went to Germany to play for the Wolsburg Grizzlys, then ended up in Denmark with the Gentofte Stars last season. How was that experience?
A: That was a culture shock. I was released after pre-season. So, we hung out an extra week in Germany, waiting. That was a tough beginning for us. At the end of the day, I looked into the mirror and knew what I was meant to do then (playing in Denmark).
Q: The home crowds in Gentofte were a bit smaller than what you experience in The AUD. What was that like?
A: Most teams in the league are located in the Copenhagen area, and for whatever reason don't draw big crowds. Attendance was tough (Gentofte average 245 fans per home game in 2015-16).
Q: How are you and your wife Britney adapting to Utica?
A: We're adventurous, and have been finding things to do. Right now, we're waiting for our vehicle to be shipped here from Edmonton (Kunyk is from Sherwood Park, Alberta - 9 miles from Edmonton). It should arrive this week. The guys (teammates) have been letting us borrow their vehicles to get around.
Q: This is your first Christmas with your bride. Any special plans?
A: New York City. We will be going down there for the break; to see the tree at Rockefeller Center. We did that two years ago when I was with Syracuse.
Q: Last summer, what came first - saying "I do" or signing to play for the Comets?
A: Hockey. Right before the wedding (July 31) I signed. That was nice. That way we knew were we would be going. We had an exciting month.
Q: How does it feel to play on the "good side" of the fans at The AUD, as opposed when you came in with the Crunch?
A: When I was with Syracuse (14-15), I always loved coming here. The fans are crazy. Now, they put my mind at ease. There's no more yelling, but cheering.
Q: Sherwood Park is also the hometown of St. Louis Blues' coach Ken Hitchcock and Carolina's goalie Cam Ward. Any stories to tell on either?
A: There are still many pictures of Ken around when he coached midgets in Sherwood Park.
Q: You played four years at University of Alaska-Fairbanks. How did a kid from Sherwood Park find himself playing Division-I hockey in the 49th State?
A: I was recruited when playing in juniors (Alberta Junior Hockey League). It's just where hockey led me. Recruiters laid it on the table, everything they had to offer. It was hard to say no. They were unbelievable years, and I'm grateful for them.
Q: Wasn't there another kid from your area also recruited to the Nanooks program?
A: Nik Yaremchuk - from St. Albert. That made things easier for me.
Q: You were team captain, WCHA Player of the Year (13-14), and not drafted by an NHL team. Surprised?
A: No. My thinking was, if it happens, it happens.
Q: Earlier this season, you were sent to Vancouver's ECHL affiliate - Alaska Aces in Anchorage. Any anxious thoughts at the time of not returning to the Comets?
A: A little bit. I knew a lot of people in Anchorage, and the coach (Rob Murray). It wasn't culture shock for me. But, I wanted to play in Utica, and I understand the numbers game. I knew that I would get a chance to play there, and I made the best of it.
Q: How did you learn that you were coming back to the Comets?
A: Five hours into my drive from Edmonton to Alaska, I got the call.
Q: In 13-14, you played in one game for the Tampa Bay Lightning. How did your NHL debut go?
A: When I left school, I went straight to Tampa. I had been there for about one month practicing with the team. I was so fortunate to get into the game.
Q: Did you family get to see you play in the final regular season game of the season?
A: They (Tampa) flew my brother and dad to Washington for the game. I was told the day before the game that I would be playing. My dad was so excited. He took a lot of pictures of Ovechkin, and a few of me (laughs).
Q: When you played in college, your team traveled great distances. As a student, how did you get your school work done?
A: When our team would travel, usually we would miss one week of classes. We would leave on a red-eye on Wednesday mornings, about every second week. Our professors understood our schedule, and usually gave us an extra day or so to make up exams. On the road, our coaches would proctor us. Being on the road was a good time for bonding.
Q: Your dad (Gerald Kunyk) played four seasons in the Canadian Football League as a punter. What kind of an athlete was he?
A: I've seen some pictures of his career, and heard stories. He played every sport growing up in high school. In college, he won a football national championship.
Q: Dinner with any three guests - who you eating with?
A: Donald Trump, Wayne Gretzky, Denzel Washington.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: Back to the Future
Interview conducted by Don Laible