I had made a promise to Travis Zajac that once his 1000th game ceremony was over, that's the last we'd put him in the spotlight. We'd move on and focus on a different storyline, let him be knowing how much he doesn't crave any sort of special attention.
But we had one more thing we needed him for.
Travis Zajac is this week's guest on the Speak of the Devils Podcast, and while Matt Loughlin and Amanda Stein talk with Travis about his 1000th game, his career, and that ceremony, there was also a big focus on Travis the person and his family who have found their roots here in New Jersey.
But it did start with the celebration.
"It was a great ceremony obviously, just to have my family there, who has been a big part of you know, most of my career. To be honest, seeing the girls out there, yeah, I was looking around like where's Zenon, is he emotional in the back right now? I wasn't sure."
Of course, it was Zenon, Travis's lone son, and oldest child who presented his dad with the Silver Stick. A wonderful moment for father and son.
"Him walking out with the stick… just seeing how, you know, proud he was and it was a great moment to spend with them. All the sacrifices they have made for me to you know, reach this milestone, it was a lot of fun, them being there with me."
It's Travis's family that keeps him in check. They're a hockey family through and through, with the kids now playing, the youngest, Anya just learning how to skate now, and his wife Nikki who played NCAA hockey. So, after a game,
"She loves watching the game," Travis shared, "She doesn't miss a beat. You know, she knows if I'm in a good mood and when I'm in a bad mood, and you know when to say something and critique something. But to be honest, I love it. I love having that in our relationship, to be able to talk about hockey, we both enjoy and love."
Such a hockey family that another year of a back-yard rink was in order this year. Something the Zajac's installed this past winter and gets ample use from the Zajac children. But sometimes they're a little distracted, more interested in snow-blowing the rink, which Travis joked they were more interested in doing, instead of snow-blowing the driveway.
From putting down roots in New Jersey, his life away from the rink, and balancing a shortened season with games every other day, with being a family man and dad, Travis gets into it all on this weeks episode of the Speak of the Devils Podcast, presented by RWJ Barnabas Health.