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Barzal Living and Learning with Seidenberg

Rookie Mathew Barzal is living with veteran Dennis Seidenberg in his first NHL season

by Cory Wright WrightsWay / New York Islanders

Dennis Seidenberg has rules in his house, but Mathew Barzal had one or two of his own before he moved in with one of the Islanders fitness freaks. 

"I said no pushup pyramids before bed, just let me go to sleep. No core workouts, no lunges," Barzal joked. 

Mini sticks with Seidenberg's son Breaker? Sure. Eating contests with his old man? No way. 

"I'll finish my dinner and have a bit on my plate left and he will be on his second plate, just devouring it," Barzal said. "I'm just like, you must be in debt with all the food you eat, it's ridiculous."

Barzal recently moved into "Haus Seidenberg," taking the basement suite in the family home. It's not uncommon for veteran players to welcome rookies into their homes - Doug Weight and John Tavares had a similar arrangement - and Barzal wasn't sure he was ready to make the jump to the NHL and live alone in the same year. 

"He's a young kid and he feels more comfortable having someone with him," Seidenberg said. "I felt like it was a good opportunity to help him out."

On the surface, Barzal and Seidenberg may seem like an unlikely pair. Barzal is a 20-year-old rookie starting to make his mark on the NHL, while Seidenberg's a 36-year-old veteran, already with an accomplished hockey resume that includes a Stanley Cup and numerous international competition experiences with Germany. They don't play the same position and their hometowns - Coquitlam, British Columbia and Schwenningen, Germany - are over 5,000 miles apart. 

Instagram from @barzal97: Beth page.... seids wearin the extra small golf shirt lol ����⛳️

But the two have formed a good relationship and it was Barzal who first broached the topic of living Seidenbergs. The veteran cleared it with his wife Rebecca and as long as the dishes wind up in the sink and the mess stays contained to the basement, Seidenberg is pretty easy going. 

After spending eight weeks in a hotel to start the season, Barzal welcomed the family atmosphere, the energy from Seidenberg's three kids and eating some home cooked meals. 

"I like being around the kids, they keep me on my toes," Barzal said. "All Breaker (Seidenberg's son) wants to do is play mini sticks and mess around, but it's fun. I like it."

Barzal also sees Seidenberg as a mentor and even though he's tearing up his rookie season, there's a lot he can learn from a 15-year veteran off the ice.

"He's gone through it before, he's not messing around with anything and I think everyone respects him," Barzal said. "He's got his plan throughout the day and I like following that and I like living with a guy like that because that keeps me in check. Having a guy like Seids, who's always focused and committed all day, helps me a lot."

They both take their conditioning seriously - Shane Prince once compared Seidenberg to a Dick's Sporting Goods mannequin - which is why Barzal felt it would be a good environment to live in as he continues to acclimate to the NHL.

"He's just a big German monster. He's so strong it's crazy. Even just pushing him at home and messing around with the guys, he could eat me," Barzal said. 

And if Barzal goes along with the Seidenberg regiment?

"I'm going to come out of the house probably like 210 lbs. and 2% body fat," Barzal joked. 

It's a recent arrangement, but so far so good, as Barzal can focus on hockey and learn from Seidenberg. And for Seidenberg, he's helping out a young player, paying forward the assist he got from older players like Dan McGillis when he broke into the league. 

"We have fun, he's a nice kid," Seidenberg said. "It just seemed like it was a good fit and the kids like him, I guess he likes them too. It was a good fit and that's how it ended up working."

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