Taking Liberties With… Emerson Etem
Position: Forward, San Diego Gulls (AHL)
Hometown: Long Beach
Last amateur team: Medicine Hat Tigers (Western Hockey League)
Youth teams: Huntington Beach Sun Devils, Long Beach Jr. Ice Dogs, LA Hockey Club
Emerson Etem has been playing the transition the past few months. In the midst of training camp in Vancouver, he and wife, Danette, welcomed their first child, son Laulo, on Sept. 30. Less than two weeks, later the Canucks waived him, but he was immediately reclaimed by the Anaheim Ducks, who drafted him 29th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft. After a few games in Anaheim, he was sent to the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League.
California Rubber: What is your favorite hockey memory growing up?
Emerson Etem: When I played with Jason Zucker and Matt Nieto, we bought this fart spray. We went around the rink playing pranks and spraying it all over the place. When our coach, Sandy Gasseau, came in for a pre-ice meeting and smelled the room, he wasn’t too happy. He skated us for an hour straight doing line drills. It was a lesson learned but it was funny at the same time. We’d also bring our skateboards to the rink and after practice we’d skateboard for close to a half hour outside. Just to be with boys, have fun on the ice and hang out after was awesome. I appreciate that my dad and the other parents stayed and let us have fun. That’s stuff you can’t take back.
CR: Which coach influenced you the most?
EE: Sandy Gasseau always cared and helped my family and all of the kids’ families. He would do things like give us extra ice time. He made sure I could achieve my dreams. He’s a big one to thank. He knew when to push us and when to back off, and that was the best part about him.
CR: What advice would you give young hockey players?
EE: I was a huge scorer in juniors and it’s not always translatable. It depends on the situation you’re brought into. If it is a deep team and you’re young, you might be put in situations at the start you’re not used to. A lot of the goals you’re scoring now don’t really translate. A lot of the goals are scored at the net and it’s about getting traffic in front. Finishing your checks, doing those little things – the earlier on they learn those, the better off they’ll be at higher levels.
CR: What are essential items to take on a road trip?
EE: My iPad. I’m an artist, so I bring my sketchpad and a pencil and pen. Clothes and a suit and that’s pretty much it. I like to doodle a little bit. My brother (Martin) is a full-time artist. We both have the knack for it. I like politically motivated stuff, current events. I like to make it into a cartoon.
CR: Have you ever drawn a cartoon about any of your teammates?
EE: No, I don’t think I have. It would be funny if I went down the roster and drew a couple of the boys.
CR: When you’re back in California, do you have a favorite meal or restaurant?
EE: Definitely Mexican food. There is nothing else like it. I like a place called La Taqueria in Lakewood and Long Beach. Their California burrito is my favorite. It’s got fries in it and it’s pretty epic.
CR: What is the most challenging aspect of playing pro hockey?
EE: You’re held to a standard where maybe you can’t show off who you really are sometimes; in interviews, you have to hold back. For a guy like me who’s really opinionated, you have to adjust some of the comments or sometimes you can’t speak your mind, which is unfortunate.
Photo/Sean M. Haffey
– Compiled by Chris Bayee