RAPID FIRE WITH WIN­NIPEG JETS’ RIGHT WINGER BLAKE WHEELER

The Hockey News - - BUZZ - – WITH MATT LARKIN

Wmo­h­doewl agsroy­wouin­rgNuop. ?1 hockey role Steve Yz­er­man. I’m from Min­ne­ap­o­lis, so we lost the North Stars when I was pretty young. My dad’s a Detroit na­tive, so it was easy to cheer for the Red Wings in the mid ’90s. ‘Ste­vie Y’ was ob­vi­ously the leader of that team and some­one ev­ery­body could look up to. Why do you wear No. 26? LI uw­coicreinNBoo. 1s7­tom­ny­haed­nti­itr,es­loifeI ,wbaustnM’tiglaon­ing to wres­tle that away from him. It was just the next op­tion. They gave me a few that were avail­able, and I picked No. 26. What did you splurge on with your first big con­tract? As cliche as it is, it was a car. I’d been driv­ing an Isuzu Trooper for a hand­ful of years, and she was on her last legs, so I had to up­grade a lit­tle bit. Got an Audi. That was pretty awe­some to tb­heaat bn­liece­towdhreivneyaoru­ouwne­drein­jus­sot­maec­tohlil­negge kid the year be­fore. It was stock, your stan­dard Audi A6, pretty old man-ish, but I loved it. What was your “wel­come to the NHL” mo­ment? Be­ing a rookie is a tran­si­tion over­all. The tth­heinng.sLIorooklil­n­m­gy­beaycek­soant iftr,oy­mour’oreokki­iens­d­now are what guys would do with me back uopf igonn.oLraiknet it­foyeovue’rreyti­h­ninthge. Ic­dolid­dnt’utb­moisrs any planes or for­get a suit or any­thing like that, but just lit­tle things you trip the hot tub, and some­body’s wait­ing for it who’s been in the league 15 years, and you don’t even think, “maybe you should get out and let them get in.” WEmh­patty’s-nyeo­tuter­rf­saavroer­fiuten.wI ateylltmo syc­soorne? that all the time. He asks me where the goalie went. And I say, “It’s a lot eas­ier to score with no goalie in there.” What’s your fa­vorite thing about be­ing an NHL player? Now that I have kids, see­ing my kids with my jersey on…my old­est son is turn­ing five, so he’s start­ing to con­nect athteth­daot­tlsetvheal.tTnoos­t­eeevehrimy­on­reeapli­zlaeyh­so­hwoc­ck­oeoyl that is, that makes it all worth it. What’s the hard­est thing about be­ing an NHLer? It’s the flip side of that an­swer. It’s be­ing away from my fam­ily with the amount we travel. And even when we’re home, we’re still not nec­es­sar­ily there all the time, with prac­tice and pre-game skates and games and all that. You miss out on a lot of stuff. But there is a pay­off. mCairzeeeirtswahreileshy­oorut,csaony, oanud’vew­geo’llth­toavmeaax­ilot of good times to spend af­ter­wards. What’s your cra­zi­est fan in­ter­ac­tion? It’s not re­ally an in­ter­ac­tion, but play­ing in At­lanta was a bit dif­fer­ent. Com­ing from Bos­ton to At­lanta and then up to Win­nipeg, I’ve been lucky. I’ve played Wine­fr­don­net­sod­fasy­onldig-ho­tut­g­ba­muiled,iyno­gus wmeyreenn’ttire ca­reer. But for the Thrash­ers-Pan­thers gWe­ht­taint gad­mvoicree twhoan­ul4d,0y0o0u fgain­vse. lit­tle ex­tra to get up for those games. 13-year-old self? Just don’t give up. As long as you be­lieve in your­self and stick with it, noth­ing can stop you.

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