TOMAS PLEKANEC: There are a lot of turtleneck questions, obviously, so let’s just get that out of the way first. The answer about why I wear the turtleneck is that there is no reason. There’s nothing behind it. I just wear it because I started wearing it in Hamilton and that’s it, nothing special. (Laughs)
What is your guilty pleasure?
TP: It’s got to be chocolate I guess, the usual one. It’s the most obvious.
Do you still get butterflies every night at the Bell Centre during player introductions?
TP: Yes I do. It’s always special to play at the Bell Centre. Every single game is great to be in, especially one like [October 16]. Home openers are awesome. I think everyone has fun.
What’s your favorite game day breakfast?
TP: Oatmeal with a lot of maple syrup and some toast. Just the usual, with a little bit of eggs -- sometimes two -- but nothing too big.
If you weren’t a professional NHL hockey player, what other job would you want to do?
TP: Any other sport I guess. Tennis, squash, soccer. Something like that, probably.
Which player do you get along with the best and which player annoys you the most?
TP: That’s a tricky question, so let’s just answer the first part. (laughs) You get along with all of your teammates. You find a way to like everybody in the room, I think that’s what being on a team is about. You’ve got to like everybody, but obviously there are some guys who you’re closer to whether it’s because you’re from the same country or because you spend more time on the road together. It’s hard to pick a name but obviously Jiri Sekac is here now, and I’ve been trying to help him out a bit and make him feel more comfortable.
Do you think there are more responsibilities on your shoulders with the ‘A’ on your jersey?
TP: No, not really. I’ve worn it before. I’ve had it on my jersey already so I don’t really feel anything different. Obviously it’s a great honor to wear an ‘A’, but nothing changes in my game, in my approach in the dressing room, or anywhere else.
With a couple of rookie additions to the team this year, are there any sorts of initiations for them?
TP: Well, there are some things they have to do, but it’s basically the less they talk, the better. (laughs) That’s the first one, and obviously we also have a rookie dinner, which is kind of a special night for every rookie in our league. It’s a night for them to remember and it’s always cool to be a part of it.
Did you do anything different during this offseason?
TP: No, I’ve been playing for long enough that I’ve found the way I like to prepare myself and I’ve been sticking with it for the past 10 years, pretty much.
If you could play on a line with any two wingers all-time, who would they be?
TP: That’s a tough one. I’ve played with a lot of good players, a lot of good linemates and I’ve been lucky that way. It’s really hard to pick only one or two wingers. I’m really grateful for the linemates I’ve had.
What’s the best win you can remember as a Habs player?
TP: It’s got to be all the playoff games we’ve played over the last few years. Whether it was last year [in the playoffs] against Boston or the years before against the Capitals and Penguins, those were nights that we really enjoyed and those were some of the best moments I’ve had in Montreal.
Who was your favorite hockey team growing up?
TP: Back in the day there weren’t too many NHL games on TV so it was hard to watch, but I would mostly follow the Czech players in the NHL. Back in the day it was [Jaromir] Jagr in Pittsburgh, so I guess it was the Penguins.
What’s your favorite kind of music and do you have a favorite band?
TP: I’m a radio guy. Whatever’s on the radio, whatever’s on a good station, I’ll listen to it. I’m not such a big music guy that I listen to specific bands.
So Top 40?
TP: More like Top 100. (laughs)
Does Montreal remind you at all of your hometown of Kladno.
TP: Not really. I mean, the crowd is pretty cool in Kladno when we play. There’s always a full crowd – it’s sold out – so it’s pretty nice to play there. Obviously it’s not 22,000 like in Montreal but 5,000 in Kladno is pretty good.
Are you superstitious?
TP: A little bit. Not too much, but I have some things that I do on game days and I try to stick with them as much as possible, but nothing that would bother me or keep me from focusing on what I need to do.
What kind of stuff?
TP: I can’t tell you. (laughs) I’m superstitious.
Who’s your favorite team to play against?
TP: Usually the one I’m scoring the most goals against. (laughs)
Do you prefer being a goal scorer or setting up a nice play? Which one feels better?
TP: They both feel good. We need to win the games, so whether you’re setting up goals or scoring goals, it’s not a big deal. It’s always nice to be part of a good game either way.
What’s the most memorable moment of your career so far?
TP: It’s hard to say because I’m still waiting for the biggest one. The Game 7s are obviously big ones, and I’ve also won a World Junior championship back in the day, so there are some cool games I’ve played in. In Montreal, the jersey retirement nights were pretty cool to be a part of as well.
Do you consider your start to this season one of your best of your career so far?
TP: Point-wise and goal-wise, probably yes, but it’s just four or five games into the season. I consider a good start to the season at least half the season, not four or five games. (laughs)
If you could be in a band, what would you play?
TP: I think I’d play the guitar. I played the guitar when I was nine years old for a year.
Were you good?
TP: No, I was awful. (laughs)
Who’s the biggest talker in the dressing room?
TP: That’s easy isn’t it? (laughs) It’s P.K., obviously. He never stops talking.
I like it when you upset Sidney Crosby. What do you say that gets him so upset?
TP: Usually the best way to get other players upset is by not saying anything, actually. Not reacting or doing anything is the best way to upset the other guys.
How is the kitty that you adopted doing?
TP: Good. It’s not a kitty. It’s like a half-dog. It’s like a dog-cat. (laughs)
TP: Well when you go outside, he walks right beside you like a dog, basically. So he’s a different kind of cat, I guess.
We know you like to call Jiri Sekac ‘Forrest’. What are some other funny nicknames you have for the guys?
TP: There are some good ones but I don’t want to put them out there. (laughs)
Do you have one other than Pleky?
TP: No, but even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you. (laughs)
Who would be your ideal wingers on the current roster?
TP: I think our current line has played some solid games lately, and hopefully we can keep it up. We have a good team, and whatever the coaches decide to put together will be fine with us.
What was your best Halloween costume growing up?
TP: We didn’t have Halloween back in the Czech Republic, so the first time I celebrated was actually here in Canada. I don’t know what my best Halloween costume was. I don’t remember all of them, but my hot dog costume was pretty good.
What’s your favorite 3:00 a.m. snack?
TP: Nothing anymore, but when I was a kid it was chocolate, pizza, and a bunch of different stuff.
What do you like to do during a day off? What do you do in Montreal for fun?
TP: I try to sleep in a little bit if I can. Just enjoy the day, go for a message, try to relax a little. Just rest, really.
Are you happy to see Manny Malhotra take some defensive responsibilities off your plate?
TP: He’s a great player. It’s nothing about me or taking away responsibilities that I had. He’s a great faceoff guy, a great player, and great guy in the room, so it’s great we have him.
Who’s the most serious player on the team?
TP: It’s got to be me. (laughs)
Do you communicate in Czech when you’re facing other Czech guys on the ice?
TP: Sometimes we do, if there’s a good time for it. Trying to make fun of the other guys a little bit to get them off their game in Czech.
Who’s the funniest guy on the team?
TP: Mike Weaver is pretty good. He’s right up there. P.K. can be up there, too, sometimes. (laughs)
How does it feel to be one of the experienced veteran guys on the team now, helping out the younger guys like Sekac and Galchenyuk. Who helped you out the most when you first got here?
TP: It’s different. It’s kind of funny to realize that you’re on the other side now trying to help the younger guys instead of being the one getting help from older guys. I’ve been so fortunate to have teammates who have helped me here in Montreal, whether it was the Czech guys like Bonk or Spacek, or the other guys like Kovalev. Now it’s the other way around, and it’s different to see how quickly things change.
What do you like most about playing in the NHL?
TP: It’s the NHL. It’s the best league in the world and it’s a dream come true for any player who plays here. It’s awesome.
Can you say something in French?
TP: Obviously with [my son], he’s talking a lot in French now so I know a few words, but I’m a very shy person.