Opposing players have to pay the price, usually physical pain, when getting up-close-and-personal with Blue Jackets defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. Just ask Buffalo Sabres defenseman Ales Kotalik, who was flipped over the wall and into his own bench after receiving one of Tollefsen's rattling hits. Fortunately, we at CBJ.com didn’t have to pay anything for an interview with the proud Norwegian. "O.K.", is one of only two current NHL players to hail from the western Scandinavian nation, and he’s the subject of this week's "Q&A with the CBJ."
(CBJ.com) – Q: What is it about hockey that you love the most?
(O.K.) – A: The team and my teammates. Being in a group and playing on a team is the best feeling. When you're down, you're down, and when you're up, you're up. But you're always together as a team. That's the neatest thing.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Could you talk about your team and personal goals?
(O.K.) – A: Well, for me coming into the season, the goal was just making the team, obviously. I came in with low expectations, I guess. There were a lot of good players coming into camp, and I knew it was going to be a struggle. I got my lucky break, so worried about getting hurt and all that stuff. After camp, you really just want to do the best for your team - whatever I can do to help us make the playoffs and all that stuff, and basically, that's the goal for the team. We just have to get better on all levels.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your family and growing up in Norway?
(O.K.) – A: For me growing up was (different from some of the other guys.) Hockey wasn't a big part of the community. The place where I grew up was a small, small town of about 10,000 people. There was a small rink. I played soccer until I was like 14 or 15 and had to quit because I chose hockey instead.
I was in a sports family. My sister, mom and dad were into European handball, so they were doing all that stuff while I was busy with hockey and soccer. When I was 16, we moved to Lillehammer where I went to a sports college, so that gave me the opportunity to practice in the morning, practice at night and play a lot of games, kind of like school and hockey together. In another two years, I went to Canada. It was nice growing up. I had all the ice time I wanted in that laid-back community.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who were some of your heroes growing up?
(O.K.) – A: When I grew up, NHL was so far away because we never had it on TV. I could never watch, but I collected hockey cards. I was a huge fan of the Detroit Red Wings, Nicklas Lindstrom and Sergei Fedorov. They were my favorite players, so I had all their hockey cards. I remember I collected Sergei's MVP series back around '94 or '95. That's when I really got into the NHL. Maybe I got a little bit into it on the Internet. I had my soccer heroes, but most of them were Norwegian players.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Norway has a pretty good soccer team, right?
(O.K.) – A: It's not bad. There are lots of good players playing in other leagues, but the national team just can't do it together.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What's been the highlight of your rookie year so far?
(O.K.) - A: I think it was my first game this year. I saw my name on the roster and was like, 'Wow, I can't believe I actually made it.'" It was everything I had worked for, so that was really huge. Being a part of this team and everything has made this year great for me except that I really would like to win more, but there's always that.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What's your favorite thing to eat?
(O.K.) – A: I love tacos but from good places. Taco Bell just isn't the same at all. But do you know what? I barely eat that during the season. I eat a lot of the summer barbeque and stuff like that.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Is that because you have an in-season diet with things listed you have to say away from?
(O.K.) – A: No, it's just that when you play that much, you have to eat a lot of pasta, keep your carbs up.
(CBJ.com) – Q: What kind of music gets you pumped up for the game?
(O.K.) – A: Before games I listen to Metallica.
(CBJ.com) – Q: If you weren't playing hockey, what would you be doing?
(O.K.) – A: I think my answer would be a fireman. Always since I was a little guy I've wanted to be a fireman.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Who's the teammate with the best sense of humor?
(O.K.) – A: Well, I sit beside 'Johnny' (Aaron Johnson), and he's always smiling a lot and has comments and everything. I can actually back him up on this because he picks up a lot of his humor from (Syracuse and former Columbus defenseman) Jamie Pushor. 'Johnny' and Chimera are always talking, so it's going to be either one of those two guys.
(CBJ.com) – Q: Describe "O.K. Tollefsen" in one word.
(O.K.) – A: On the ice, "I'm fiery." Off the ice, "I'm calm." Most people wouldn't think so, but I'm pretty laid back.