Former NHLer turned Jets radio analyst talks about the gift he got from David Ortiz, and more.
Status: Former NHL defenseman from 1999-2011 for Ottawa, Nashville, Atlanta, Anaheim, Boston and Minnesota. Now works as a radio analyst covering the Winnipeg Jets.
HT: 6-1 WT: 204 pounds. DOB: November 8, 1975 In: Neepawa, Man.
First Hockey Memory: “Just playing road hockey with my friends back in my small hometown in Manitoba. That was something, every night the phone would ring – there were no cell phones then – someone would call, we’d set up the game if we had enough people. It was so cold in the winter and we’d be out there in our jerseys and whatever and we’d play road hockey under the street lights.”
Hockey Inspirations: “Family, first and foremost. Coaches through minor hockey and right through my path whether it’s junior, the minor leagues, to the NHL. Everyone has a place. But obviously your parents, first and foremost. They’re the ones who sacrificed for you to have the luxury to play.”
Last Book Read: “I jump between spy novels. The last good book would be the better question [smiles]… But you caught me off guard. That’s not an easy thing to do [smiles].”
Current Car: “Ford F 150 (silver).”
Greatest Sports Moment: “Winning. Being a part of the Stanley Cup in 2011 with Boston.”
Most Painful Moment: “Other than certain injuries there wasn’t a lot of painful moments. I think most painful was… I got to stay in the game so I can’t say retiring… I wouldn’t say the most painful but the toughest – the transition… I almost quit hockey after my last year of junior. And then I came back – Pierre McGuire – I went to the ECHL and he was the coach and helped me out.”
Favorite Uniforms: “Boston.”
Favorite Rinks To Play: “I loved playing in Boston as a Bruin. You always love your home rink, so that’s not fair. I think Chicago and Madison Square Garden stand out the most.”
Most Memorable Goal: “Probably a short-handed goal when I was with Atlanta against Pittsburgh. I actually made a nice move around Marc- Andre Fleury to score it.”
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: “Any time you trip or catch a rut and go down. Nobody in the rink knows you caught a rut, it just looks like you fell down and (the opponent is) gone for the breakaway. There was a time…one of the most embarrassing was when I got absolutely danced by Jaromir Jagr when he was with Pittsburgh and I was with Ottawa. The puck was kind of hesitated on and I think he put it through my feet twice and went in on – thank goodness the goalie made the save. And I remember coming back to the bench and why it was funny is because the late, great Roger Nielson was my coach – and I came back to the bench all upset, young defenseman – and he said, ‘Don’t worry, you’re gonna get beat by worse players than that.'”
Favorite Sport Outside Hockey: “Golf.”
Three Athletes You Like To Watch & Follow: “I follow hockey for a living. So I think any time you see the elite guys play. Ovechkin has always been someone – his passion to score goals. And he’s done it at such a rate here over the years. Outside of hockey – Tom Brady. Patriots fan playing in Boston. And David Ortiz. When we won the Stanley Cup – he wore 34 for the Red Sox and I wore 34 for the Bruins — and after we won, in the mail, I got a nice signed David Ortiz jersey which said: ‘You may be The Sheriff’ – which was my nickname – ‘But I’m the law, Big Papi 34.’ So that was cool.”
First Famous Player You Met or Encountered: “I think I remember Morris Lukowich from the Winnipeg Jets coming to my hometown when I was young.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “Oh, there’s a lot. Andre Roy – I played with him in Ottawa. He was an extremely funny guy. Quite entertaining.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “Too many stories. That is the thing, I just miss the room. You miss the boys. You talk to anybody who’s out of the game. Sure, you miss parts of playing but more than anything you miss the room, the guys in there and the funny times. That’s your brothers, that’s your family. And there were so many funny times through out my career, it would be impossible to pick one. (Just one. A G-rated one?) G-rated… now you’re really making it… there’s a lot of practical jokes that go on. Trying to think of the best one… I’ve seen a guy’s car – in Minnesota – it was filled with popcorn. The whole car filled with popcorn through the sun roof. Because somebody got the bags of popcorn from what was left around the arena. And filled up his car. (Victim?) I believe Eric Belanger was the victim.”
Strangest Game: “First game I scored my first NHL goal was against L.A. playing with Ottawa in Ottawa. I think it put us up 4-1. We scored again, 5-1. And I think we lost that game either 6-5 or 7-6 in overtime. So it went from what was going to be a good moment to not being a very good one, giving up that type of lead.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Loyalty. I think hard work. I think a commitment, especially I think because of the team atmosphere. The commitment to your team. To yourself. To be the best that you can be.”
Mark “Scoop” Malinowski is the author of the new tennis books “Facing Federer” and “Facing Nadal” which are available at amazon. He’s currently working on “Facing Probert.”