Gulls Exit Interview: Sam CarrickMay 26, 2021
By AJ Manderichio/SanDiegoGulls.com
On his final day of the 2020-21 season, Sam Carrick jumped on a Zoom call with media with a relaxed smile and a plan to continue improving in the offseason.
The Gulls captain continued his incredible offensive production for San Diego, recording 14-10=24 points with a +5 rating and 19 PIM in 27 games with the Gulls. Carrick became the Gulls all-time leading point scorer with a goal (76-90=166), Feb. 13 vs. Colorado, and also recorded his 300th career American Hockey League point on March 24 at Ontario.
Additionally, the veteran became just the third member of the organization to reach the 200 games played milestone on February 27 against Henderson.
Carrick also earned an extended opportunity with the Anaheim Ducks, recording 2-4=6 points in 13 games with San Diego's National Hockey League affiliate. The totals represent new career highs for the Markham, Ontario native.
He finished with 2-1=3 in the team's Pacific Division Semifinals series loss to the Bakersfield Condors.
Below is a transcript of Carrick's exit interview, edited lightly for clarity.
On the 2020-21 season and its unique challenges:
It was weird, for sure. Different protocols, making sure guys know what the protocols are and making sure guys follow them. It gets exhausting at times, for sure. We went through the whole year pretty issue-free, so that's a credit to our guys and our staff here, that we did a good job of staying safe.
A lot of sacrifices were made, for sure, to do that. Our lives definitely changed, and we're excited to hopefully get back to normal soon. It's one of those years we're going to remember for a long time. Some good, some bad.
On avoiding a COVID-19 outbreak and completing the schedule with no delays:
I think, if you talked to us at the beginning of the year, one of our goals was to not have an outbreak but at the same time, it's probably going to happen at some point. It's almost unavoidable. But credit to our whole team. We did our thing at home - we came to the rink, we kept our distance from each other. In a normal year, you can get the team together, you can have team parties and go for dinner with the guys, do all that normal stuff. This year, we just couldn't do it. It was what it was, but we just couldn't do it.
We still managed to have some fun at the rink. It's pretty impressive we were able to get through the whole thing, for the most part, issue free.
On his experience with the Ducks and the Gulls and witnessing firsthand the young talent in the organization:
For me, as a player, it's exciting. As someone that cares about this organization, for how much they've given me here, I'm super excited for where they're heading. You talk about the young guys - we all know the Trevor Zegras and (Jamie) Drysdale, I think we all agree they're going to have good and long careers. Even the other guys that maybe don't get talked about as much - the Lukas Dostals, (Olle) Eriksson Ek, (Jacob) Perreault. You can go on and on. I think a lot of them, the potential there is huge.
I think this organization puts a lot of emphasis on developing. We have a lot of great resources here. Look at our coaching staff and how much experience they have. These kids are going to grow, be really good pros and have long NHL careers. It's exciting for the organization for sure.
On the development of his own game:
It's one of the great things about here. It doesn't matter who you are or where you were drafted, they want to take the best players here. Usually it's the guy who's playing the best is going to get called up. That kind of puts it on us as players - if you want to help your career out and get called up and play in the NHL, you have to be that guy who's being best player on the ice down here.
It's great for a guy like me. I'm 29 now. I still feel like I'm improving every year. Even though I'm looked at as an older guy in professional hockey, I still feel like I haven't peaked yet. That's exciting for me, going into the summer here, where I know I can have a good summer and come back next year and be a better hockey player. I'll just continue to do that.
It was nice to get those games in with the Ducks this year. That gave me some confidence that, if I have a good summer and improve on some things, who knows what can happen next year.
On how the players felt the fan support from afar:
It helped, like you said, with having social media and seeing people reach out. I think the Gulls do a great job with their social media accounts and keeping people engaged, posting videos of our goals and fights and whatever it is. That kind of kept us going, for sure, seeing that stuff.
It was what it was. We'd all rather be playing in front of 10-to-12-thousand fans at Pechanga (Arena San Diego), but we knew the support was there. We could feel it. Even toward the end of the year, these last few games, seeing Gulls jerseys in the stands in Bakersfield and people traveling and spending their money to stay in hotels and watch our games, it gives us a boost. It's exciting for us. We can't wait to get back and play in front of a full building for sure.
We got through this year. We still played our hardest, stuck up for each other. The games felt like they were still the same intensity, so that was good. Once we get some fans on our side in buildings, I can only imagine that intensity's going to go up and make it that much more fun.
On making a mark on the team's record book:
When I got traded here, even that was a surprised. I can remember even when San Diego came into the league, I can remember thinking, 'I can't imagine how fun it would be to play there. What a spot that probably is.' Then I get traded here. It kept me motivated to play that much better because I knew I wanted to stay here.
Throughout my career, I've played in different places. This is the one spot, once I got here, I knew I wanted to stay here. That meant being a good hockey player and playing my best. That was all the motivation I needed. I've been treated extremely well here since I got here. It's my job to go out and play the best hockey I can. If I do my job, I knew they would keep me around. That's been my mindset for the four-plus years I've been here, and that hasn't changed. It's been a fun ride so far.