The best I've ever felt in a hockey rink? Probably winning any of the Stanley Cups or Olympic gold medals. There are times when you're playing and things just feel good. Anytime you're on the ice and everything you're doing is working and you just feel confident with the puck and the decisions you're making, that feels pretty good.
The worst I ever felt was losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals to Colorado in 2001. Coming that close and not being able to do it really hurts.
Hockey is a physical game and there are times when every stride and every move you make hurts.
It's hard to say which of the three Stanley Cups I've won was the best. Winning the first one was probably the most exciting, just enjoying the accomplishment and not really thinking deeply about what it meant. After you play longer, you go through losing playoff series and do other things, you realize how much work it takes to do it. It just becomes more satisfying after that. Not as exciting as the first one, but more satisfying. It means more to you.
People say I make it look easy out there. I think that comes from the way I skate. I try not to waste a lot of energy. Also, the smarter you are in this game, the more efficient you can be with what you're doing, where your positioning is. You can accomplish a lot by using your brain, more so than just your legs. If that's what people mean when they say I make it look easy, then I'm happy with that.
I'm not real comfortable saying whether I'm smart or not. Let's just say I've been fortunate to have some good coaches in my life and to play with some good defensemen. I've learned a lot by watching them do things. At the same time, you have to be willing to learn. I've been lucky to have those opportunities.
How did I become a good skater? My brother and I skated a lot as kids and had good instruction. We had a power skating teacher early on and even did a little bit of figure skating, which is basically learning to cross over and use the right technique. And yes, you need some talent as well.
I wasn't always a defenseman. I don't think there are many kids six or seven years old who say, "I want to be a defenseman." I don't know exactly when it was, but I was on a traveling team when I was around nine and there just weren't a lot of defenseman. I don't remember if I was put back there or volunteered. But there was a shortage of players back there and I ended up there one way or another.
Rob and I have always been pretty quiet. It's just who we are. Certain people make a lot more noise. Our parents weren't loud either. And the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
I've never been a real good joke guy. I don't remember lines from movies. There are some guys who can just reel off jokes or movie lines. I've just never been like that. I don't know if I'm not interested, but it's just not something I do well. When I was in my first year in New Jersey, all the rookies had to tell a joke and that was the worst five minutes of my life trying to think of one.
When you're in the locker room, there are always different types of comments that are made. Once in a while I get involved with that. But I'm a bit quieter. Still, I enjoy a good joke as much as anybody.
As the captain, you want to supply energy to the team by talking a bit or offering encouragement or advice. Because I'm the captain, I probably do that more than I would naturally. I've had to make a conscious decision that it's something I need to do.
Even when I was younger, I was one of the better players. I scored a few more goals than the other guys. But I never thought the NHL was a possibility until I was 16. It just didn't seem real until then. That was when I played in the WHL and players are drafted out of there. I was playing against players who had been drafted. That's when I started to realize it would be possible and I would have a chance.
Getting drafted was pretty exciting. You're there as a kid and all these faces you recognize are sitting there, whether they're players, ex-players, coaches or general managers. All of a sudden you realize you're going to be part of that. I was in awe of a lot of that.
A friend of mine told a magazine writer that I said I didn't want to have a girlfriend until I signed my first pro contract. I really don't remember telling him that. I actually tried to have a few, but maybe it was just bad skills on my part.
I've probably been in 10 or 12 fights in my career. About half of them were in preseason games. There was one in the World Cup in 2004, but besides that, I haven't been in one in quite a while. It's just my attitude now. Before, I played the game with more emotion and a little less control. Back in the earlier days, someone would do something to me and I would get angry. Sometimes I still get upset, but I'm more able to just forget it and continue to do my job. I'm not the smallest guy out there, but I'm not the biggest guy either, and I've been fortunate to play with other players who help me out in that department.
I do listen to punk rock a bit. But I listen to almost any kind of music. I kind of go in spurts with my music tastes.
Fans come up to me more than I thought they would when I first came out here. It took a while in New Jersey to get recognized by fans, then it happened a lot after we went to the Finals two years in a row. I got recognized a little bit, but not a lot by any means. It probably happened every few days. It's been about the same here, which kind of surprised me at first because I was a new player.
There are a lot of weird things people ask me to sign, like golf balls or baseballs. There have been a few foreheads and arms.
What have I learned in this game? It's just the simple things. Hard work is important. Not letting things bother you. Don't worry about the things you can't control. It's just the basic lessons that are really simple, but as you live and go through a lot, they just become more and more important.
The most fun part about hockey is when you're on the ice and things are going as planned and everyone is working hard. When you're having success from that and everyone is helping each other, that's a pretty nice feeling to have. When that's happening during games, you come to the rink the next day for practice and everybody is feeling good. Then the hard work just comes naturally. When that's happening, there is no better place to be.
This story appears in the latest edition of Ducks Digest. Pick one up free at the next Ducks home game.