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Catching up with... Bobby Holik

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

New Jersey was Holik's first choice when the 6-4, 230-lb. center became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

email – This fall, a familiar face returns to New Jersey. Bobby Holik is a Devil once again.

A member of the organization for 10 seasons from 1992 to 2002, Holik came back into the fold when he signed as a free agent on July 1. After stops in Manhattan and Atlanta, the 6-4, 230-lb. Czech Republic native has said the Garden State was his first choice in 2008.

Holik, 37, appeared in 82 games in each of the last two seasons and rejoins the organization with which he won Stanley Cup titles in 1995 and 2000. The 17-year veteran wore the captain's "C" for the Thrashers in 2007-08, while collecting 15 goals and 19 assists.

Holik recorded 198 goals and 265 assists for 463 points in 724 appearances as a Devil, and ranks third all-time in goals, 10th in assists, and fifth in points. reached Holik at his home in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to find out what he's been up to this offseason and what he's looking forward to in 2008-09:

Holik says he's eager for the start of training camp.
Bobby Holik: As a hockey player, offseasons are win-win situations. If it's short it means you were successful, and if it's long it means you have more time to spend with your family. We've spent summers in Jackson Hole since 1994, and it became permanent the year of the lockout [in 2004-05]. It's our home now, and we love it. During the summer it's a great opportunity to get away from it all, to train, and to do some great things with the family.

We're in a small valley in the mountains, so we do a lot of hiking and backpacking. We have a small ranch and both my wife and my daughter enjoy horseback riding. After my morning workouts, I usually spend the rest of the day working on the property and helping out with the horses.

I'm excited to be back with the Devils. Just before free agency started on July 1, I spoke to my agent and New Jersey worked out to be my top choice. I'm glad it happened quickly, and I think I'm going to fit in well within the team concept. I want to be on a successful team, and my familiarity with the organization was a key factor. It made the decision easy.

I haven't started skating yet, but I will before I head to New Jersey. We have a great rink here. There's another one about 75 miles away, a third one about 90 miles away, and a fourth that's about 180 miles away. It's pretty close, relatively speaking. Our life out here is big, wide-open country. If you have to drive for an hour and a half or even three hours, it's nothing because that's just how far apart the towns are.  

As far as my coming back to New Jersey, some of the fans may hold a grudge. The bottom line is that the team is going to be better, and that's really what matters to the fans: they want their team to do well. What's important now is that I'm looking forward to playing for the New Jersey Devils again.

One of the reasons I wanted to come back was the chance to play in the Atlantic Division again. You face the Flyers, the Rangers, the Islanders, and now, with the Penguins winning the Eastern Conference last year, it's going to be a real challenge. It was important to me to be playing in a competitive atmosphere not only at home, but on the road. The majority of your games are divisional games, and for my style of play, this division is the best division in hockey.

That said, my style as a hockey player has definitely evolved over time. You might not do certain things as well as you did 10 years ago, but you're a lot smarter and a lot more experienced, so you find a different way to do it.

You have to be willing to evolve, because you don't have the same ability that you had as a 22- or 25-year old, but you have much more experience. You get to a point where you've seen a lot more and you've played with different players and coaches, and there's a lot you can bring to a team.

I'll leave for New Jersey in September for training camp, and I'm looking forward to getting started.

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