Jonathan Dahlen made his debut for the San Jose Barracuda last night.
It was a quiet beginning in the San Jose organization for the once-ballyhooed Vancouver prospect, skating before SAP Center’s announced crowd of 2,593.
But this might have been a welcome contrast for Dahlen, who departed the Canucks organization under no small controversy.
“His agent asked me a couple weeks ago if we could move him,” Jim Benning said in his post-trade deadline press conference on Monday.
Benning added, “I find young players now, sometimes they don’t want to pay their dues in development time, they just want to be given an NHL opportunity right off the start.
“We just felt there was some development left in his game before he’s ready to be given an NHL opportunity. I guess that’s kind of where the discrepancy on what they thought and on what we thought where he was happened.”
In response, Dahlen’s agent J.P. Berry admitted to Sportsnet 650’s Rick Dhaliwal, “There was frustration on both sides. We had numerous discussions on how to improve the situation. More recently a possible move was discussed as an option.”
Last night, after his first game with the Barracuda, Dahlen spoke with Fear the Fin about what happened in Vancouver and how he’s looking ahead.
Fear the Fin: You came in today, right? How was tonight, adjusting?
Jonathan Dahlen: To be honest, I just want to sleep right now. (laughs)
I woke up at 2:30 AM in Utica. I got a ride to the airport there. I flew the whole day, got here at 11 in the afternoon.
It’s been a long day, but fun to start with a win. It’s kind of nice to get thrown right into it like that, so you don’t have to think too much, just go out and play.
Get a nice night’s sleep tonight.
FTF: When did you find out about the trade?
JD: I found out at like 3:30 PM. So I had the whole afternoon there to pack. That wasn’t so stressful. It was more, when I was going to go to bed, it’s kind of hard when you know you have to wake up at 2:30 a.m. to sleep.
Kind of woke up every hour there, stressed out. It was a lot of time to pack, little time to sleep.
FTF: What did it mean to you to put on your father’s old No. 22 for the first time?
JD: It was really fun, especially when he had it in this building too. It was a cool experience. But to be honest, I haven’t thought that much about it. It’s all gone so quickly, feels weird that I’m with a new team and everything. I have to let it sink in a little bit.
FTF: What was your dad’s reaction to the fact that you got traded to his old team?
JD: His first reaction was, “WHAT?” Then, “You know what, it’s a good thing. I was there. I know a lot about the place, it’s beautiful.” He said a lot of good stuff about San Jose.
We talked a lot more about other stuff too. He was excited.
FTF: Do you know any of your new teammates?
JD: Everybody’s completely new except Francis Perron. I went to development camp with him in Ottawa one year.
FTF: What do you feel you have to work on to make it to the NHL?
JD: Oh, I think it’s a lot. I have to work on a lot of things in my game. Get speed. I’m really excited to work here with a good coaching staff. Work on every detail in my game, to play in the American League first of all, and be a good player there. We’ll take it from there.
I don’t have [anything to] stress. I just want to play here and try to be a good player in the American League first, focus on the next step after that.
FTF: If I could clear up some things then, did your agent ask for a trade?
JD: No, I don’t think so.
We had a little stuff down there in Utica where I really wanted to feel good about myself and have confidence in my game and play well. I don’t want to say anything bad about anybody, but I didn’t feel too good about my hockey game there.
To be honest, I just want to put it behind me, and I’m really excited to work with the great coaching staff here who have already made me feel a lot better about myself. I’m really ready to get going here and work hard and just be happy and love to play hockey.
FTF: Jim Benning said some young players these days don’t want to “pay their dues” to make it to the NHL. He was referring, in part, to you. Was that a fair assessment from him?
JD: I don’t know. To be honest, I’m just excited to be here and work hard and try to get to the next level.
But first of all, I want to be a good player in the American Hockey League. I haven’t even put my eyes on the NHL yet, I just want to play in the [AHL] first and make a good impression there.
Obviously, you can’t jump over a step, and that’s not what I want to do either because that would just look terribly wrong if I’m in the NHL and not good enough. I’m trying to develop my game here in the [AHL] and become a good player there first before I even think about taking the next step.
FTF: Benning also said the discrepancy between your camp and the Canucks was that your camp thought you should be in the NHL at some point this year. You’re saying that wasn’t a fair portrayal?
JD: No, I want to be a leading player in the [AHL] and play there.
I was trying really hard in Utica to earn minutes in key situations and working really hard to do it. But I’m just happy to be here and I want to try and earn minutes here with the Barracuda. It’s not like I have any eyes on the NHL yet because I’ve got a lot to work on to get there, for sure.
FTF: What was challenging about Utica?
JD: It’s a hard question.
It’s a great group of guys there. Great teammates. They’re really nice, everybody there. Great captains and vets and everything. Had a Grade-A experience with the team there.
I’m just happy to get a fresh start now. Try something else. Try to feel good about myself again. Get confidence.
FTF: For Sharks fans who don’t know you well, what do you bring to the organization?
JD: I try to be an offensive player. Create offense. Make some nice passes, play defensively and work hard. I’m trying to develop my defensive game to get it where I want it to be too.
FTF: Has San Jose shared any timeline with you, their plan for you with the organization?
JD: No plan like that. I just came.
First of all, I want to finish the season with the Barracuda. Try to go as far as we can. It was really fun today to play on a really good team like this. It’s really exciting.
I want to finish the season, have a good summer, work hard, and we’ll take it from there.