Although Dylan Yeo came late to the Oklahoma City Barons’ season, he has made an excellent impression in three months. He was signed to a PTO on November 23rd and played his first game as an OKC Baron on November 25th vs. the Grand Rapids Griffins. Two short months later he was signed to a Standard Players Contract on January 25th and by the end of February he tallied four goals and four assists in 28 games – not bad for a defenseman!
Dylan is a quiet, engaging young man and you might be very surprised to learn that he sang the Canadian national anthem at a Calgary Flames game! Hopefully we can talk him into singing a national anthem in OKC at some point. Has a starting lineup hockey player ever performed a national anthem from ice level? If not, perhaps it would be a fun tradition to initiate!
In every interview I have conducted, I have many favorite moments — wiping tears of laughter away as Kirill Tulupov described his workout video, Andrew Lord’s response to “Why Hockey?”, Philippe Cornet’s response to his shooting percentages, and my inability to uncover the truth about Antti Tyrväinen’s Zamboni video. From Dylan’s interview, it is a quote: “The only family and friends you’ve got on that ice are your teammates.” I like that. Welcome to OKC, Dylan!
Acknowledgments: Many thanks to Dylan Yeo for participating in this interview, and also, thanks to Neal Livingston for brainstorming on a few of the more interesting hockey questions. Thanks also to Steven Christy for allowing the use of his photos, and to Josh Evans for arranging the OKC Barons interviews.
- Dylan Yeo: No. 5
- Position: Defenseman
- Born: 07/16/1986
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 210
- Origin: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Interview with Dylan Yeo — February 21, 2012.
PT: You grew up in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. Were you born there? Tell us more about your hometown and surrounding area.
Yeo: Yes. It is up in northern Saskatchewan and about 35,000 people live there. It’s a nice area and if you drive a little bit further north, about a half hour, you get into a bunch of lakes, Candle Lake, Emma Lake, Waskesiu Lake, and once you get up into that area it is really very beautiful.
PT: Is that the Canadian prairie?
Yeo: Yes, a lot of flat lands, farms.
PT: Why hockey? What caught your interest about hockey?
Yeo: Ever since I can remember I’ve been skating. My dad bought me my first pair of skates with I was three, I think. I put them on, and have been skating since then. Growing up I watched my uncle David, my mom’s brother play in the NHL – Dave Manson. My dad played and my whole family played. It was just a sport that was in the family.
PT: You are not related to Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo – but you are a nephew of the former Defenseman Dave Manson. Your uncle was known as one of the most feared defensemen in his era and he was a Chicago Blackhawks legend – he was known as “Charlie” Manson during his day. Despite his fearsome reputation he was an offensive defenseman. Did he influence you in any way?
Yeo: Not really. It is just the style that I enjoy playing. Obviously, he was a lot bigger than I am — 6’ 4” quite a bit bigger than I am. He liked the more fighting physical part of the game. I’m not saying that I don’t, because I love the hitting and if I have to fight, I’ll fight. I just try to bring that offensive part to my game as much as I can.
PT: Being Canadian, I assume you grew up watching hockey – who was your favorite team and favorite player?
Yeo: Growing up, I just cheered for whatever team my uncle played for. He played for a number of teams, so I just watched my uncle, and when he left, I just watched Nicklas Lidström from the Detroit Red Wings, and I tried to learn from him.
PT: What hobbies do you have – other than hockey?
Yeo: I love playing golf. Golf is one of the secondary sports for a hockey player I guess. I also play guitar and sing. Sitting around, got nothing to do, it’s fun to play the guitar.
PT: Tell us more about this very interesting part of your life – as a musician and singer.
Yeo: I am not any big singer, just kind of picked it up and play. I sang at a couple of my family weddings, and I sang the anthem at a Calgary Flames game.
PT & NL: There are a couple of YouTube videos of you singing — and one of you singing the Canadian national anthem before a game for the Calgary Hitmen. Did you sing the national anthem while you were part of the team? Did you play that same night?
Yeo: I sang twice that year, the first time for my own team the Calgary Hitmen, and I was hurt at that time, so I wasn’t playing due to a wrist injury. Later on that year, I think around March I sang for the Calgary Flames at their game.
PT: Perhaps we will have to have you sing the anthem here at some point!
Yeo: We’ll see. We will have to talk to the coaches. [laughing]
PT: How would you describe yourself – what kind of person are you?
Yeo: Friendly. Laid-back. Kind of just enjoy life as it comes to me.
PT: What is the one thing about you that would surprise people the most—other than singing.
Yeo: I might have to say golfing. I’m not like the pros, but I can shoot a good score. [laughing]
PT: Do you have a hockey nickname?
PT: You were in Juniors from 2003 to 2007 when you turned pro. You have covered a lot of territory – Western Canada, east coast Mid Atlantic, west coast Southern California and now Oklahoma. These are very diverse geographic areas – any favorite locations?
Yeo: Being in Victoria my first two years, they were very good to me. I loved Victoria. I was in Canada. I would probably have to say that was my favorite of them all.
PT: I see you played with Bryan Helmer in the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs with that season’s Championship team, the Hershey Bears. Were you able to spend enough time with Hershey to get to know Bryan at that time?
Yeo: Oh yeah. He had his family and wife there, so it wasn’t like we hung out on a regular basis, but we got to know each other a little bit and he was a good friend in Hershey, so it was nice to know that when I was coming here I would see a familiar face.
PT & NL: How did you land in Ontario – this is Ontario, California, not Canada – with the Reign to start the season.
Yeo: I took fire-fighting school this summer, a 3-month course, and during that process I wasn’t sure whether I was going to go play in Europe or stay here and play. It took probably until August to figure out that I wanted to play one more year in North America so I started looking around for an AHL opportunity and there was no right contract for me to sign so I just searched around the east coast, the ECHL, talked to a bunch of different teams and eventually decided to go to Ontario. I talked to the coach there, Jason Christie and it was a really good situation. I loved Ontario, nice weather you know, great organization there. It was awesome.
PT & NL: When were you contacted by the OKC Barons? You were signed to a PTO with the Barons on November 23rd and on January 25th your Standard Players Contract with the Barons was announced.
Yeo: They tell you that day then you go pack and leave.
PT: Congratulations on the contract! We are very happy to have you here in OKC!
Yeo: Thank you.
PT & NL: You now have 4 goals and 4 assists with the Barons since you arrived in November. Are you ready to back stop a run through the playoffs in the AHL this season?
Yeo: I think so, yeah, I think so. I’ve had the experience. During that time with Hershey, I didn’t play as much as I’d wanted to, but just being there, seeing how a winning team performs in the playoffs, and wants to win that cup, it’s motivating. You learn from that. I ended up playing a couple of games with them that year. It takes a lot for a team to win, they have to want to win, and have to be committed.
PT: In Rochester on January 20th you scored two goals, 1 minute 41 seconds apart in the first period giving the Barons a lead in their game against the Rochester Americans. That was impressive – you are a defenseman – tell us about it.
Yeo: The team was playing well, and we were creating opportunities for us to score. For me, being an offensive type of guy I just try to look for opportunities for me to just jump into the play, but at the same time, I have to make sure it is the right time to do it. So, for that first goal, Harti – Teemu, he just shot the puck on net and there was a rebound and I grabbed the puck, made a move and put it in the net. So, it was just luck of the puck out there, and me being there. And the second one was just a good shot from the point and it just happened to go in.
PT: You currently are wearing number 5 – and you also used that in Juniors. Is there any significance to that number?
Yeo: No, I’ve been many numbers – I like number 5 and that’s why I wanted it. I had it in Ontario – I was supposed to be a different number, I can’t even remember what number in Ontario, but I asked our trainer if I could be number 5 because it was open. Here, it was just a random thing. Obviously I was two other numbers before number 5 and when Petrell came to the team he took 32 and I just saw the number 5 jersey in my stall. It was good – I was happy. [laughing] Yeah, every guy has a number he likes and wants to try to get that number.
PT: How do you describe yourself as a hockey player? You are a defenseman, but tell us more.
Yeo: I’m good in my zone. I’m tough on the puck. I try to work as hard as I can, try to win my battles. Just try to make the simple plays as best I can.
PT & NL: You seem to always be ready to shoot. You consider yourself an offensive minded defender – has this been your style of play from your early days?
Yeo: Yeah, all through my Junior career, I haven’t changed my game. I’ve made little tweaks now and again and just became more aware of things that are happening on the ice. Trying to pick the right timing, to jump into play and stuff like that, but it has always been a part of my game.
PT & NL: The coaches seem to enjoy your leadership on the ice. Have you always found yourself in positions of leadership in your career?
Yeo: Yes, I guess so. I was Captain in my last Junior year, and I’ve always been talkative in the room, trying to get the guys motivated a little bit. On the ice I work as hard as I can to try to build a spark for our guys.
PT: Who has most influenced you in the game of hockey — anyone, player, parent, coach?
Yeo: Probably my dad. My mom and dad both have supported me throughout my whole ride here. I have to give it to them, they spent loads of money on me and my two brothers – we all played hockey and it wasn’t cheap. They definitely did a really good job keeping me in it and keeping me with it.
PT: Do your brothers still play?
Yeo: No, my younger brother is not playing anymore. He played university hockey with the U of R – the University of Regina in Saskatchewan. He played there for about half a year and before that he played a year and a half with the University of British Columbia. My older brother while in school played in Calgary in the college – Sait, it’s called – and he’s kind of still playing. He’s playing Senior Hockey – it’s not a huge league, but he is still involved in hockey.
PT: Do you have any favorite traditions, habits or superstitions – either before or during games?
Yeo: Not really. I like do certain things but it’s not like if I don’t do it, it’s not going to affect me. For example, I dress from the left side first. That’s just comfortable. It’s nothing.
PT: What is your best hockey memory so far?
Yeo: The Calder Cup was good. I don’t know – there are a few good ones. I won some awards.
PT: You have won quite a few awards! You were the ECHL Defenseman of the Year.
Yeo: Yeah, that was really big.
PT: You were named to the ECHL National Conference All Star Team that same year. In 2010 you were in the Kelly Cup Playoffs and you were the Stingrays top scoring defenseman. You also played in the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs, as a member of the Hershey Bears championship team.
Yeo: And if you want to go way back, when I was playing midget, before Junior, I was playing triple A hockey I won top defenseman in the league there. First team All Star there, that year too, and top defenseman on my team. That was good. There was a tournament in Calgary that year too, it’s called the Mac Cup, or Mac Tournament, and I was top defenseman of that tournament as well. That was a good deal!
PT: Have you had any memorable encounters with an opponent or opponents?
Yeo: There are tons. The hockey world is so small that almost every team you play you are going to know someone there. So, every game is memorable. Like last game against San Antonio, I know Greg Rallo – I played with him on the Manitoba Moose. I don’t know him that well, but he is a guy I knew. Before that, with Milwaukee, Brodie Dupont – I played Juniors with him for three years and I know him very well.
PT: When you meet up on the ice, is there antagonism, or is it just fun to face an old friend or acquaintance?
Yeo: It’s just fun. Now, saying that, when you are paying against them, it is totally different when you are on the ice. You are not going to hold back from hitting the guy. The only family and friends you’ve got on that ice are your teammates. They are not going to lay up on you, so you can’t lay up on them.
PT: Who is the toughest competitor in practice?
Yeo: I would say I don’t like going in the corner with Teemu. He’s really good with the puck, strong with the puck.
PT: Who is most likely to play jokes on his teammates?
Yeo: Before the trade, it was O’Marra. Now, I don’t know. Every time there was a joke, it was O’Marra.
PT: What is the best prank or joke so far?
Yeo: Probably the baby powder in the towels. When you come out of the shower. Pretty funny. Makes you smell good. [laughing]
PT: What has been the most difficult thing about relocating to Oklahoma?
Yeo: Probably comfortability. Staying in a hotel isn’t easy, obviously. I’ve pretty much lived in a hotel all of my pro career, just going up and down from teams. After my contract, I got an apartment, so that is good.
PT: Have any family members been able to visit you here in Oklahoma yet?
Yeo: No, not yet. My parents have not been able to see me play yet, but they are coming this year for Easter break. And my sister and her boyfriend are coming too.
PT: You have not been here very long, but is there anything that you particularly like about Oklahoma so far?
Yeo: I have not been around too much to tell you the truth – so far it has mainly been hockey and travelling. The area is very nice, I love the area. There is a lot of history around here. I like that part of it. I learned about the Oklahoma City bombing in firefighting school this summer, and I went to the Memorial.
PT: Have you discovered anything about Oklahoma that has surprised you?
Yeo: No, not yet. I haven’t been here long enough. A lot of construction around here.
PT: How do you feel about playing hockey in Oklahoma? It is a football stronghold, but we do have some very serious hockey fans here.
Yeo: It’s good! The fans are coming out more lately which is really good. It’s good. I love playing here and the guys, training staff, everyone is really good to you.
Previous OKC Barons Interviews: