Jay Harrison was a free agent signing by Jim Rutherford which might have been a bit under the radar this summer, but Paul Maurice thinks that the young defenseman has a real shot to make the team. The fact that the ex-Leaf was assigned to the "A" group this training camp proves that. The Oshawa native finds himself in the thick of heated competition for the coveted seventh defenseman spot, (and perhaps sixth position if Pitkanen stays out longer than planned).
The Maple Leafs drafted the "home town boy" back in 2001 in the third round, but he spent most of his professional career in the AHL. He only has 20 NHL games under his belt, without benefit of a goal. Harrison had a few good years with the Marlies though, (one of which was under Maurice), and had a total of 26 goals and 48 assists during the 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 seasons.
He has good size at 6'4 and 211 and is not afraid to mix it up when necessary. The Canes signed him to a two-way deal worth $500,000 at the NHL level.
I met up with Harrison for this exclusive interview on Sunday, September 13.
CC: What has been the highlight of your career so far, or most memorable moment?
Harrison: My most memorable moment would probably have to be my very first NHL game playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC against the Montreal Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night. It was a very big game and it was obviously a huge thrill, to say the least.
CC: You had played for Paul Maurice a couple of times in your career. Was he instrumental in getting you here? Did he talk to you about the organization prior to your signing?
Harrison: Well, yes he did call prior to the signing and we spoke on the phone. He let me know about the organization from a personal standpoint. The fact that we had a history together, he let me know what it was all about. And everything has certainly been true. It's a great group of guys and a really well run organization. I am very happy and extremely proud to be here.
CC: Can you describe your game for fans who might not be familiar with you?
Harrison: Sure! I'm a big, stay at home defenseman, who can contribute (on offense) when I have to. But I like to take care of my own zone, make good plays, and play solid defense. I like to use my size to my advantage and keep the house clean, so to speak. And stick up for my boys when I can. (see photo below)
CC: What is your favorite sport other than hockey?
Harrison: I really enjoy golf, despite the fact that I don't get a chance to play much anymore. It's probably the only sport where you can sit down and watch it for four hours straight on a Sunday. Right?
CC: Right! (am I going to argue with Jay Harrison?)
CC: Do you have a piece of equipment you are most fussy about?
Harrison: I would say my pants. My pants need to fit right. I have long legs and I kind of have a different type of pants, a long and lean style, so to speak. They can't be too bulky in the back.
CC: What's your favorite off ice workout?
Harrison: Definitely yoga. I've been a big yoga fan for awhile now.
CC: and your favorite beer?
CC: You are wearing number 44. Why 44?
Harrison: Well, they gave it to me, but I wore 43 in Toronto so I figure it's time to get one better in Carolina!
Here is a shot of Harrison "sticking up for his boys" while playing for Toronto.