This week I interviewed Evansville IceMen forward, Mike Duco. He was kind enough to answer some questions about his career.
Duco is a native of Toronto, Ontario and since playing junior hockey for the Kitchener Rangers he has played professionally since 2008. With over 400 games of pro experience across North American and Europe at varying levels, he shares his insights on on the game of hockey and his career thus far.
Josh Wahler: You’ve spent some time playing in Europe. What did you find was the biggest difference between your time there vs playing in North America?
Mike Duco: The biggest difference between playing in North America and Europe is definitely the ice size. You have so much more time and space in Europe and it’s just a completely different game. Not your usual North American dump and chase, it’s all about puck control.
JW: According to hockeyfights.com you’ve been in 75 fights. Any one fight or one opponent that stands out in particular?
MD: My most memorable fight would have to be against Lance Bouma in Calgary, when i was on Vancouver. It’s a huge rivalry and we were playing in their arena. I felt like I had to get involved physically early on in the game and he was a willing combatant. I was able to get an assist that game and the team won as well. It was an overall good night for me, definitely one I’ll remember.
JW: How would you describe your game or style of play?
MD: My style of play would probably be described as a physical, gritty forward that finishes every check, willing to drop the gloves and stand up for teammates, with a scoring touch as well. As my career has continued I’ve enjoyed stepping into more of a leadership role and like to lead by example on the ice.
JW: Is there anyone you’ve played with over the years who stands out as having the biggest impact on you as a player?
MD: I wouldn’t say there was one particular player that has helped me, there has been several players along the way that I have really enjoyed playing along side and have helped me become a more well rounded player. One person stands out on a personal level, that kind of took me under their wing and showed me what it was like to be a pro. That would be Bryan McCabe. He always made sure I was good when I was in Florida and treated me as if we were brothers. I will always remember the things he did for me, he is an amazing person and friend.
JW: Between junior and pro, you’ve had a long career, is there any moment or game that stands out to you as special?
MD: After a long career I would have to say that having the opportunity to play in my very first NHL game vs the Colorado Avalanche would be my most memorable moment thus far. It was a very special day for me and my family. It just proved that all the road trips, long hours at the rink/gym, and time my family put into my hockey was worth it. This wouldn’t have been possible without a supportive and loving family. My mother, father, and brother had a huge part in all that, and I’d like to thank them for always being in my corner.