Darius Kasparaitis

Status: NHL defenseman from 1992 to 2007 with New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins, Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers. Also played for Dynamo Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg. Four-time Olympian and three-time Olympic medalist (1992 gold, 1998 silver, 2002 bronze).

DOB: Feb. 22, 1972 In: Elektrenai, Lithuania

First Hockey Memory
: “I remember going on the ice, first time ever stepped on the ice, I was eight years old. I had figure skates and I just started skating right away. I just felt like I was skating before but I never did actually. It felt like it was natural. Maybe that’s why I stuck with hockey. Because when I went on the ice first time ever, it just end up working for me.”

Hockey Inspirations
: “As a hockey player I grew up in the Soviet Union and I looked up to the Russian teams. We didn’t see much hockey overseas. But probably guys like Fetisov, Kasatanov, Larionov and all the top unit. They were unbelievable those days.”

Favorite Movies
: “Oh definitely, Full Metal Jacket. That’s one of the greatest movies – it’s the only movie I can watch every day and won’t get bored with it.”

: “In Russia they call me ‘Hans’ because they thought Lithuanians were part of Germany. Here they call me ‘Kasper,’ short for Kasparaitis.”

First Job
: “That’s a good question. I never had a first job (laughs). I grew up as a hockey player actually. Being the Soviet Union, playing hockey all the time, I never did anything else.”

First Car
: “Was, besides a Russian Lada, when I came here, was a BMW 7 Series (black) in 1992. I bought my first big car.”

Greatest Sports Moment
: “Definitely ’92 Olympics. We won the gold medal (in Albertville, France) as a Unified Team. That was the best moment of my career.”

Most Painful Moment
: “Probably injuries. When you get injured and you miss six months. That’s it. Probably my first injury – big one. When I tore my ACL (1994), missing so many games and going to rehab. That’s very painful.”

Closest Hockey Friends
: “Oh, probably (Alexei) Yashin because I play in Russia with him and we lived in New York nearby. Alex Yashin is a close friend.”

Funniest Players Encountered
: “Definitely Marc Bergevin. I played with him in Pittsburgh, that guy was really funny.”

Toughest Competitors Encountered
: “To play against? It’s so many of them. I think Dany Heatley. Martin St-Louis. They are tough guys to play against. And of course Jari Jagr.”

Favorite Meal
: “Swedish meatballs with potatoes.”

Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
:  “Vanilla.”

Embarrassing Hockey Memory
: “Probably one time a long time ago. I got hit so hard and I didn’t realize where I was and I went to the other team’s bench for change. I realized that the guys were screaming at me, that I was going the wrong way (smiles). I think that’s one of the funniest moments. Against the Devils when I was playing in Pittsburgh.”

Favorite Sport Outside Hockey
: “Fishing, sailboating.”

Favorite Uniforms
: “I like the Chicago Blackhawks and Rangers third jersey with the Statue of Liberty.”

Favorite Arena
: “Definitely Madison Square Garden. It’s probably one of the nicest places to play hockey.”

Favorite Vacation Spot
:  “I think St. Barts (France) and Bermuda really surprised me. Because it’s not far – 1:45 flight – and it’s so beautiful there.”

People Qualities Most Admired
: “Honesty. Being honest. Honesty is the most important thing in human beings. If you’re honest, you can rely on people. And I think that’s what people need to be more of – sincere and honest.”

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Mark ‘Scoop’ Malinowski is the author of “Heavyweight Armageddon: The Tyson-Lewis Championship Battle” and creator of two websites:  and