After being dealt last night from the Rangers to the Jets as part of the Jacob Trouba trade we hear today from the newest Jets defenceman Neal Pionk. Pionk, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska but raised in Hermantown, Minnesota, spoke about the trade and his career to date. Listen here:
On how he found out about the trade “I was out for a round of golf and then got home and was just home relaxing. The GM of the Rangers Jeff Gorton called me and told me the news then shortly after Chevy called me so that’s how I found out.”
On what he thought when he heard the news “It’s a bit of a culture shock. Never been through a trade before. So you’re thrown off a little bit. I would say all of last night I was thrown off. Now that it’s settling in I am excited for the opportunity in Winnipeg.”
Describing his style of play “I would say I’m a two-way defender. I can play power play if need be, I can kill penalties. I think I’ve proved that I can play against top lines in the league. I can fit up and down the lineup too. Hopefully there’s an opportunity for coach Maurice to use me to all of my abilities.”
Pionk is older than fellow Hermantown resident and Jets 2017 2nd round draft pick Dylan Samberg. While they both went to Minnesota-Duluth, Pionk is older but knows Samberg as he has younger brothers who played with Samberg. Had this to say “….We stay in touch. We’ll work out together and skate together in the summer. He is a heck of a hockey player. Whatever he is 6’4, 6’5. And got a lot of skill and a good skater for that size. Winnipeg should be excited about him.”
Said he hasn’t heard from his new Jets teammates yet but said the news is “pretty fresh”. Said he isn’t too familiar with many of the players aside from Kyle Connor who he played in a World Junior A Challenge out in Nova Scotia (2012 or 2013) where they won a gold medal.
Pionk on Jets captain and Minnesota product Blake Wheeler “Growing up in Minnesota you hear Blake Wheeler’s name all the time. How much of an icon he was in the state high school league and then playing for the Gophers. It will be pretty cool to meet him.”
Was asked if he has had any talks about a contract extension with the Jets. Said he hadn’t. Said it is something his agent and Chevy can take care of.
Said he spoke to Jets coach Paul Maurice yesterday and the focus of the team is speed. Said it is something he will be working on this summer.
He is in Minneapolis where he trains in the summer.
On his journey from Hermantown to New York and now to Winnipeg: “I grew up in a town called Hermantown which is right outside of Duluth. At the time of me growing up there it was 8,000 people, so small northern Minnesota town. And going from 8,000 to 8,000,000 in New York is a bit of a culture shock. And of course it’s cold up in Duluth so I don’t think I will have any problems adjusting to Winnipeg.”