GLENDALE, Ariz. - Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt didn't play much hockey growing up in Houston, but he's become a big fan during his time in the desert and follows the Phoenix Coyotes' fortunes regularly.
Goldschmidt, who finished second in the National League's Most Valuable Player voting in 2013 after driving in a league-best 125 runs and hitting 36 home runs, was honored by Phoenix on Saturday and dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Coyotes' game against the Carolina Hurricanes.
"I got to know some of the guys a few years ago when [the Coyotes were pushing for] the Stanley Cup, so that was pretty cool," said Goldschmidt, who earned the Hank Aaron Award, which recognizes the outstanding offensive performer in each league. "I'm looking forward to this, it should be fun.
"I got a lot of text messages from family and friends. A lot of them said 'Don't fall.' Keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully I'll be all right."
Goldschmidt said he played some roller hockey and followed the minor-league team, the Aeros, as a boy in Houston.
"There wasn't much ice down there in Texas," he said. "It's unbelievable how they make skating and the puckhandling look so easy. For me to get out there would just be pretty much embarrassing. I just want to kind of hang out and enjoy it."
While he would likely possess a good slap shot, Goldschmidt has no designs on changing sports.
"I'm paid to get out of the way of the [ball]. They are trying to get in the way," he said of blocking shots. "I like getting out of the way better"