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August 3, 2009

Catching Up with Casey Hankinson

Catching Up
Periodically during the summer, you will have the chance to ask questions of your favorite Admirals players. Just email your question and it may be answered on! Make sure to check back periodically to see who will be on the clock next.

The "Catching Up" series continues this week with the all-time leading goal scorer in Norfolk Admirals (AHL) history: Casey Hankinson. In 219 regular season games with the Admirals between the 2000-01 and 2002-03 seasons, Hankinson tallied 76 goals and 79 assists for 155 points. He ranks first in goals, fourth in points, sixth in assists, first in power play goals (28) and tied for first in game-winning goals (12) in AHL Admirals regular season history. He also ranks first in all-time Admirals Calder Cup Playoff points (19) and goals (10) – including the series-clinching overtime goal at Scope in the 2001 Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks.

Casey Hankinson/Photo by Yvonne Paxson
1. How are you? Michael Taft says hi. He misses you. He is in the hospital so he asked to email this for him. Where have you been playing? (Georgiann & Michael Taft, Virginia Beach, Va.)
Michael, it’s great to hear from you. I hope your smiling is as big and contagious as I remember it. My playing days are over but I’m enjoying living with my family in Minneapolis, Mn and working as a commercial real estate developer. I also am helping the Anaheim Ducks with Minnesota scouting. I have been the scouting the past three seasons and it’s a great way to still stay involved in the game.

2. What are you doing now that you aren't playing hockey? Are you still involved in hockey in other ways? (Debbie Smith, Hampton, Va.)
I work for a Design-Build real estate firm called Ryan Companies and I focus on Industrial and Office development. It's a tremendous Minnesota company that has a presence across the country. We actually built a distribution center for a company called LDI/Safeco not far from Virginia Beach. It’s of course a very tough development world out there today, but I'm fortunate to work for a great company. As I said above I still help out Anaheim with Minnesota scouting and it’s a great way to stay connected. I even worked with Trent Yawney for a short time when he was with the Ducks. Anaheim is a great organization.

Casey Hankinson/Photo by Yvonne Paxson3. What do you miss most about playing in Norfolk? Do you still play hockey when you have time? Do you still keep in contact with other former Admirals? (Ryan Jackson, Chesapeake, Va.)
I miss the great teammates I had while I was in Norfolk. Those were some of the closest teams I've ever played on. I miss the great weather, the fans, and I really enjoyed the area. Of all the places I played the Virginia Beach area is a place I could have easily lived full time. Great people, plenty of outdoor activities to do, and a great family atmosphere.

I hate to say but I've only played in a couple pick up games since I retired and haven't skated in over 2 years. It's kind of strange considering how much time I've spent on the ice in my life, but there are other things now that are more important.

It's tough to stay in contact with as many former Admirals as I'd like too. My wife Holli and I have two daughters – Sami (4) and Stella (2), along with my job and scouting it can get pretty busy. I do stay in touch with as many as I can.

4. You scored the game-winning goal in overtime to clinch Norfolk’s first-round series in 2001 against Cincinnati. What do you remember about that series and specifically scoring that goal? Did you have any run-ins with Sean Avery? (Lee Ann Howry, Virginia Beach, Va.)
For one I remember the [2001 Cincinnati] riots. That was very unusual to move to Norfolk to finish the series. I also do remember getting scored on the few shifts before. It wasn't a good feeling because I was also on the ice the night before when they scored the game-winning goal. I remember thinking that I had to make up for it somehow. I always loved playing in overtime. It’s exciting and every time you were on the ice you had the chance to win the game. Fortunately that night I got some luck and as I recall I received a great pass from Kyle Calder. Maybe it was Mark Bell, it could have been either. Those two guys were/are great players and it was an honor to play with them. Thankfully no run-ins with Mr. Avery.

Casey Hankinson/Photo by Yvonne Paxson
5 Name a couple of your favorite on-ice and off-ice memories of playing for the Admirals.
There are probably too many too list. We spent so much time on the bus that many of the memories are from there. I recall one time we came home from Philadelphia and they had a small room in the back of the bus that had a couple of bunk beds and the satellite TV and radio. The room couldn't have been bigger than 8 x 8, but we had a big win and we literally had 15 guys crammed in there singing songs for almost every minute of the five-hour trip. Like I said we had some close teams and some great characters.

6. Who were your best friends on the team when you played for the Admirals? (Mike Johnson, Newport News, Va.)

I don't mean to not answer the question but if I named one I'd have to start naming them all. We really were a close group and had so much fun together.

7. You retired at such a young age. What made you want to retire? Do you ever feel the itch to get back in the game? Do you think the post-lockout rules would have benefited you? (Bill Wilson, Norfolk, Va.)
I didn't have the desire to be the best guy on the ice anymore. Very rarely was I ever the best guy, but you at least want to have that attitude. It was time for me to move on with my life and start a new career. Of course you look back at times and wonder if you picked the right time but I really do think I did. You have to be so committed to play at that level and the NHL level. It’s often more about desire than it is ability.

Casey Hankinson/Photo by Yvonne Paxson8. What did you enjoy doing with your time in Norfolk/Virginia Beach?
The first couple of years I lived downtown and really enjoyed it. I thought it was a nice downtown with great restaurants and always something to do. My last season I lived out at the beach. That was a great experience too. I think 11 of us lived in the same complex: Henderson, McLean, Thornton, McCarthy, DeBrusk, Valk, Helperl, Laing, Huskins, Baines. That is a great list of guys and as you can imagine it was never dull.

9. In your last season playing professionally, you played alongside Zenon Konopka in Cincinnati. Konopka was our captain last season. What do you remember about him? Do you keep in touch with him? (Ron Kennedy, Virginia Beach, Va.)
Z is a great competitor. You always know you can count on him to give you everything he's got. The year I played with him in Cincy he had a great year and worked for everything he had.

I also just want to say thank you to all the Admirals fans. Some of my happiest hockey playing years were spent in Norfolk. I really enjoyed getting to know the fans and wish the Admirals the best of luck in 09-10.

Click here to read Blair Jones’ “Catching Up”
Click here to read Scott Jackson’s “Catching Up”
Click here to read Mike Brown's "Catching Up"
Click here to read Juraj Simek's "Catching Up"

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