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An Oklahoman in the NHL: Matt Donovan Ready for Historic Debut

Haha! ... Wait, seriously you guys have hockey in <em>California</em>?
Haha! ... Wait, seriously you guys have hockey in California?

BREAKING NEWS NOTE: Newsday's Arthur Staple reports the Islanders have agreed to an entry level contract with Brock Nelson. The team confirms, as discussed in this thread.

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At some point this will be as repeated as Matt Moulson having some NHL brother-in-law (I know, right?), but Matt Donovan was born and reared in Oklahoma.

That makes him a special case as he gets his NHL debut tonight -- the first player (of just three born in Oklahoma) to have his major youth hockey development occur within the state. (It's the one shaped like a meat cleaver on a regular U.S. map, for those of you who have a certain geographic lens.)

That means the debut gets Donovan attention both at home and around the NHL. Fortunately, his parents got the news just in time. The Islanders released some audio from morning interviews -- segments likely to be played on MSG+2000 tonight. Here are some salient quotes, as well as further interview links below:

What type of defenseman are you?

Offensive defenseman. I like to jump up in the play. I've been concentrating on playing more defensively and getting the job done in my own zone before I try to creep up in the offensive zone, but mainly I'm an offensive defenseman.

On coach Brent Thompson and how he's helped in Bridgeport:

"Oh, unbelievable amount [of help]. He's pretty big on defense first, so I've always been an offensive defenseman but my defense hasn't always been there. He's helped along the way.

Where did you play your youth hockey?

"In Oklahoma!"

(Donovan's definitely proud of his roots -- as well he should be -- and proud to have made it this far after playing in Oklahoma up to age 16.)

With Aaron Ness and Calvin de Haan already debuting, did you think maybe your turn wasn't going to come this season?

"I never really thought about it. [ed. note: Lie!] I was just concentrating on winning games with the Sound Tigers this year."

Jack Capuano on Donovan:

"He's a puck moving guy. What we saw in rookie camp the last few years, we've seen he has that ability, so there's no better test than tonight against a good-sized New Jersey team."

Other Good Interviews with Matt Donovan

Copper and Blue's Oklahoma-based correspondent interviewed Donovan earlier this month.

Rob McGowan at the Checking Line with Donovan in February

Islanders Point Blank with Donovan in January

Trivia: Class of 2008

Donovan is the ninth member of the Islanders' 2008 NHL Draft class to make his NHL debut. Seven of the others have debuted with (and are still property of) the Islanders, with unsigned sixth-round pick Jared Spurgeon becoming a regular with the Minnesota Wild.