Kevin Shattenkirk on giving back and his role on the team

Shattenkirk spoke to Blueshirt Banter about the Jam Kancer in the Kan Foundation and his role on this year’s team

On January 16th Kevin Shattenkirk, Boo Nieves, Brett Howden, Neal Pionk, and Tony DeAngelo met with fans and members of the media at Mustang Harry’s to help promote the second annual Kevin Shattenkirk Kancer Jam.

Ian and Niall Conroy, the owners of Mustang Harry’s, presented a $25,000 check to Shattenkirk and Jamey Crimmins for the Jam Kancer In The Kan Foundation. Crimmins, who came up with the idea for Jam Kancer in the Kan while training for the New York City Marathon in 2014, is still amazed by how much the Foundation has grown.

“When we first started this, we were a backyard event,” Crimmins told Blueshirt Banter. “It started in my backyard in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. We raised $14,000 our first year and $44,000 our second year. All of a sudden, we get involved with Kevin and Anders Lee from the New York Islanders. By this time next week, we’re going to go over one million dollars raised. It’s just incredible.

“The beauty of our event — the beauty of Kan Jam — is that, unlike golf, anybody can throw a frisbee,” Crimmins continued. “With hockey players, every single one of their teammates show up to these events. Kevin doesn’t have to do this. Kevin makes plenty of money and he could sit there and cash his checks, but it’s incredibly important to him to give back at home and be a role model for kids. Just like Brian Leetch was for him, he wants to be that [person] for other people.”

Before meeting with Rangers fans, posing for countless pictures, and stepping in front of the cameras for MSG Networks, Shattenkirk took a few minutes to talk to Blueshirt Banter about the Kevin Shattenkirk Kancer Jam and the current Rangers season.

Blueshirt Banter: So, as I understand it, you got this idea after watching Anders Lee do his own Kan Jam. Is that what you got you started working with the foundation?

Kevin Shattenkirk: When I came back to New York, I knew I wanted to do something involving the community in order to give back. Like you said, I saw Anders had done this and it was something that no one else was really doing. Really, I just liked how approachable it was; how easy it was for fans to just come out and throw a frisbee around.

I think it gives them a chance to be really up close and personal with us. You’re not just hanging out in a golf cart with one guy for a whole day. You’re playing against a new teammate every game, and when your team isn’t playing, you’re mingling and having drinks and food. Last year, the way it all went off — it couldn’t have been better.

BSB: Is there anyone on the team who’s a real ringer at Kan Jam? Anyone you’ve got to watch out for?

Shattenkirk: Yeah. Kevin Hayes, he’s a college boy.

BSB: Is it the reach, maybe?

Shattenkirk: Oh, the reach is huge. It’s huge. I think his competitiveness in any sort of backyard game is also pretty high. The Euros were not too good and surprisingly Chris Kreider was the worst player on the team. Just like his hockey game, he thinks if he just throws things hard that everything will work out, and you need a little bit of touch in the Kan Jam game.

BSB: I know how much signing in New York meant to you, and in reading about last year’s event I saw how you were able to give back to a hospital that’s so close to your hometown. Does giving back closer to home mean a little bit more? Is it a little more special?

Shattenkirk: Wherever you end up playing, you always feel in touch with your community. I felt that way in St. Louis, I did a lot of stuff in the community there. But obviously coming home, I felt it was definitely my duty to do that. It’s something I enjoy doing, giving back in any way. Whether it’s the Learn to Skate programs or doing what we’re doing here. I was taught when I came into the league early on that this is something that you’re supposed to do.

You’re not just supposed to show up to the rink and play hockey. It really hits home for me, Montefiore is one of the leading hospitals in the area. When I went there, it felt like it was the people that I knew growing up — they were my people.

BSB: As a veteran player in a young locker room, do you feel like being a part of the New York Rangers organization means setting that kind of example for younger players. Maybe “expected” isn’t the right word, but do you feel like you’re looked to, to provide that kind of example?

Shattenkirk: To be honest “expected” is the right word. When you become a professional athlete, you have the role in the sport you’re playing, but you’re also a role model —someone who’s a source of inspiration for the community where you are. It was impressed upon me when I was a young player and I saw the value in it really early. I saw how much it affected me and what it meant to the community.

We have a great group of young guys, some of whom will be here tonight to help out and just to stop by. But I think it’s important that they realize this is about more than just hockey.

BSB: Switching over to something on-the-ice: did you ever expect to be playing under David Quinn again? Has he changed a lot since Boston University?

Shattenkirk: You know, not much has. It’s all been pretty much the same, it’s just his role that’s changed. At BU, I was in more contact with him because he was our defensive coach. So, I had a lot of David Quinn in my life, we had a lot more practice then. Now he has a lot more fish to fry and a lot more on his plate.

The way he approaches the game hasn’t changed. What he expects of you as a player and his coaching style is very much the same as it was in college. In that respect, it’s been very comfortable for me knowing exactly what he expects and knowing what to do. And to also be a leader and help him out as well and be a good bridge between the players and our coach.

BSB: The Rangers have Tony DeAngelo and Neal Pionk — these guys who are now in a similar position to where you were a few years ago as offensive defensemen. Do they set themselves apart to you in anyway? Are you looked to as someone who can help them figure out what to do and not to do on the power play?

Shattenkirk: I definitely try to help them as much as I can. To your point, they are both great in their own right. They are offensive defensemen, but they are different.

Neal is a guy who has tremendous skating ability and seems to have this poise with the puck. He gets himself out of sticky situations by using his feet. And Tony’s a guy who does it a lot with his eyes and his passing. He reminds me a lot of how I like to play. He likes to move guys with his eyes — he’s a tremendous passer. He’s a quarterback in that sense.

Really, they’re both a byproduct of what the game has become. It’s kind of exciting for me, because I feel like I’ve drawn a lot from their game this year and hopefully used their skills and abilities to maybe help my game a little bit. It’s fun having two guys you can bounce ideas off of.

Note: Portions of the interview have been edited for brevity and clarity.