Home might be where the heart is, but conversely, Jackets right wing Dan Fritsche has kept his heart where home is. The Ohio native grew up in the Cleveland suburb of Parma, a two-hour drive from Nationwide Arena, making him the only “local” player on the CBJ roster. As a budding player in the NHL, he gets the unique opportunity to start his career in a place where everyone he grew up with easily can come watch him play. His father, Jack, is the head coach for the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets, who share Nationwide Arena with the Blue Jackets, so it’s not too uncommon for two Fritsches to be in the same hockey building.
Dan has strong allegiances to the Ohio State Buckeyes in football and hockey as his brother, Tom, is currently a member of the OSU hockey squad. “Fritch” has his own take on how the colossal college football match-up with Michigan will go down Saturday. Read that and more in this week’s “Q&A with the CBJ.”
(CBJ.com) – Q: What is it about hockey that you love the most?
(Dan) – A: There are tons of things I love about the game. Playing the game has been my life since I can remember, and now that I’m doing it for a living, it’s my job. I’m getting to do things I love and make a living off of it, so it’s a dream come true.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What are your personal and team goals for the season?
(Dan) – A: Personally, I set myself to the highest goals. I want this year to be a big breakthrough year for me. I want to spend the full year playing and contributing to the team. With that contributing, I want to help the team make its first playoff run. That’s a lot of guys’ goal from here: to see us in the playoffs this year.
(CBJ.com) – Q: You certainly contributed in that game in St. Louis Nov. 9 with two goals and an assist.
(Dan) – A: I think that was kind of a big game for me. It’s always good to have a big game like that, to get your confidence level up, to get you playing your game and to get yourself thinking straight again. Since that game, I haven’t had a real big game like that, but I feel I’ve been playing a lot better and with more confidence. My game has really stepped to another level after that.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your family and growing up in Parma?
(Dan) – A: I grew up in Parma, obviously, with two sisters and one brother, me being the oldest. My dad (Jack Fritsche) has a sports shop in Parma. (Fritsche) has always kind of been ‘the hockey name’ in Parma just because of my brother and I both playing hockey competitively where we are now and my dad owning the sports shop. It’s a lot of fun, especially playing here now being so close to home–it’s like two hours away. I get to go see my family a lot, and they get to come down.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who were some of your heroes growing up?
(Dan) – A: I looked up to my father. He took all the time in the world to get us ice time and do all the small things to get (my brother and me) where we are now. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be even close to where I am now. But my biggest hero when I was younger, hockey-wise I looked up to Mario Lemieux. I always watched the Penguins play and stuff like that.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What’s been the highlight of your hockey career so far?
(Dan) – A: I think for every hockey player championships are what you remember. I was fortunate to win a couple of them. I’ll never forget the World Junior Championship when we won the gold for the U.S. That was a really exciting time for me. A couple of years ago when I was in juniors with London, we won a Memorial Cup. Those are moments that you never forget.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What’s your favorite food? Pascal Leclaire said “Lamb.”
(Dan) - A: (Turning to look at Pascal and laughing) Lamb? Definitely not lamb. I’d have to say to say Chicken Parmesan.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What kind of music gets you pumped up?
(Dan) – A: I just listen to anything fast with a rhythm. Off-ice, I’m a country guy. I even listen to country before games if it’s a good, high-tempo country song.
(CBJ.com) – Q: If you weren’t playing pro hockey, what would you be doing right now?
(Dan) – A: Be in trouble, haha. I don’t know. I’d be a normal student in school somewhere, I guess, trying to make it somewhere. I’d still be interested in hockey, so I’d be taking some kind of law classes or business classes to try to become an agent or a coach or something like that. I not too sure, though. I’m pretty lucky and fortunate to be where I am now.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Would you be at Ohio State?
(Dan) – A: Yeah, possibly. That’d probably be my goal: to go there.
(CBJ.com) – Q: That brings us to the Michigan/Ohio State football game. Any thoughts on that game? Have a prediction?
(Dan) – A: I’m praying that Ohio State wins. I think it’s going to be a really close game but not a high-scoring game…something like 24-20 OSU.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who’s your funniest teammate?
(Dan) – A: I’m gonna say Pascal. I mean, we have some dance parties in the weight room with the music going, and he’s got some good moves that nobody else can pull off?
(CBJ.com) – Q: Is that because he has strong legs?
(Dan) – A: No, I just think it’s because he’s a goalie. All goalies are weird.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Describe “Dan Fritsche” in one word.
(Dan) – A: “Positive.” I’m a pretty positive guy with everything.