Zajac collected 14 goals and 20 assists for 34 points in 82 games during the 2007-08 campaign.newjerseydevils.com –
Summer for Travis Zajac
means returning to his native Winnipeg for some fishing and country music. Entering his third season as a Devil, the 6-2, 200-lb. center heads home to Manitoba every offseason before coming back to New Jersey for the start of training camp.
For the final Devils Q&A feature of the 2008 offseason, newjerseydevils.com turned to Zajac, who is back in the Garden State and ready to open camp next week.
How did you spend your offseason? Did you go anywhere special?
Most of my offseason was spent in Winnipeg. I went away on weekends, traveling up north to do some fishing for walleye and just relax. We'd catch some and cook it up afterwards, and I think walleye's the best fish to eat.
Were you a fan of the Winnipeg Jets? Who were your favorite players?
I was a big fan of the Jets and it was sad to see them move. When I went to games the guys I watched most were Thomas Steen and Teemu Selanne, also Keith Tkachuk. Those guys were a big part of the Jets at the time, and they were fun to watch.What's your favorite type of music and artist? What was your best concert experience?
New York City
My favorite type of music is country, and I'd say my favorite artist is Dierks Bentley. I've seen him in concert at Dauphin Countryfest in Dauphin, Manitoba, and he's a great entertainer. What is the one album, song, or artist you can't live without?
I'd say my favorite song or artist to listen to before a game is Nickelback. That gets me pumped up to play. A good song of theirs would be "Someone That You're With." How do you stay in shape during the offseason?
I take a couple of weeks off after the season, then start training with weights, cardio and plyometrics.You have a craving for some chow. Do you go for chicken wings, pizza, or a cheesesteak? Where would you go for that?
I'd say pizza, and my favorite place is Forte's [in Caldwell]. The pizza here in New Jersey is absolutely better than it is back home.
I'm curious to know how you came to the decision to go the NCAA route rather then playing junior hockey – especially being a kid from western Canada where the Western Hockey League is a more common hockey goal.
Santa Cruz, Calif.
It had a lot to do with me being a late-bloomer. Physically I wasn't ready to play in the WHL and playing Junior A for an extra year let me grow into my body a little and become a better player. That said, going the NCAA route meant you could play hockey and get a scholarship at the same time, and it seemed like a win-win situation. It turned out to be a great stepping stone for me.
Do you stay in close contact with some of your former teammates from the University of North Dakota?
Absolutely. Some of my better friends played for UND, guys like Rylan Kaip who's now with Atlanta and Drew Stafford with Buffalo. Playing alongside those guys, I definitely made some friends for life. How did you adjust going straight from college to the NHL?
Bergen County, N.J.
I think it was fairly smooth for me. College helped me become more of a complete player, and at North Dakota we kind of played the same style that the Devils play. It was about being reliable defensively and still being able to make plays on offense.
Were you always a top scorer when you played high school hockey?
I'd say I was up there in scoring, but that wasn't always my goal. I was focused on making the players around me better.
Do you have any pets, if so what are their names?
I have one pet back home in Winnipeg, our family dog. His name's Samson, and he's a Golden Retriever. He's a great dog. Offseason acquisition Brian Rolston has a Newfoundland with the same name.
If you where stranded on a deserted island what five things would you bring?
An Xbox, a television, my girlfriend, an iPod and my cellphone.What is your all-time favorite memory as a Devil?
I'd have to say opening night at Prudential Center. The first game we played here was something special. It was a great atmosphere and a great step for this team. To be in this rink and our new home with our great fans was tremendous.
You and Zach Parise seem to work with each other really well on the ice and seem very close. Are you close outside of the game too?
|Zajac celebrates a goal with Parise (l.). |
He's one of my better friends on the Devils. He's someone I get along with; we're around the same age and we hang out together. He's a great player and a great role model for me.
What parts of your game have you been working on improving this year?
Definitely worked on getting bigger and stronger. Also, getting quicker – I think you can always work on your skating as a hockey player. You can never be too fast. I think that's one of the things I've focused on: getting more powerful as a skater.Going into your third NHL season, what kind of personal goals have you set for yourself for this upcoming season?
I want to start off with a lot of confidence, make some plays offensively and just have a great season. Teamwise, we're looking to improve each year. Last year was disappointing, so this year we're working to make the playoffs and go from there. Hopefully, we go deep into the playoffs.