Last week fans on Tampabaylightning.com filled the inbox with questions for Andrej Meszaros. This week you get your answers. While there isn't time to answer all the questions, here are the best of the best. Stay tuned next week for a different player!
Étienne Ricard Hometown: Ottawa Question: Hello Andrej, two years ago you were playing with the Ottawa Senators and then they traded you to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Which city is the best (Ottawa or Tampa) and do you enjoy your experience with the Lightning? Last thing, before I was a Sens fan and now I'm a Lightning fan! The experience with the Lightning is great; it’s a little different than Ottawa. I like both cities, because Ottawa is a great hockey town and the people are great there. If they recognize you in a store or out somewhere – even if you had a bad game – they say, “that’s ok, next time you’ll win.” They were very nice and sometimes very critical, too. But it’s Canada, you know? Lots of pressure. I have lots of friends in Ottawa so every time I go there I try to see almost everybody. That’s nice. Tampa Bay? Well, it’s beautiful here. The weather is unbelievable and the fans here are great, too. It’s a little different because Ottawa is a hockey town and Tampa is not, yet, but still, I enjoy it here. It’s quieter than Canada. For me, it’s better. I don’t see as many people every day. I like it. So I can’t say anything bad about either city.
Name: Don Margeson Hometown: St. Pete, FL Question: Andrej, do you feel ready to get back to your more offensive game this season? I hope so. Last year was a tough year. We were struck with a lot of injuries and we didn’t score a lot of goals. It’s tough, even for defensemen. Personally, early, my season wasn’t good, but then it picked up and got better and then my injuries stopped me. Hopefully last season was just a bad season for me. In January, I was injured with the puck and February, my shoulder was injured. I hope I can get a nice streak going. When you’re healthy, you can do more. You can do a lot. So hopefully last year is behind me and we’ll start again. Also, I had lots of different defense partners last year. In Ottawa, I used to play with Wade Redden all the time – even if I played good or bad. He was great. Very supportive. He’s a great player and I learned a lot from him. Let’s hope this year will not be as bad as last year for injuries and we’ll have steady partners on the defense. Even the forwards will have steady guys they can play with and I’m positive it will be way better than last year.
Name: Bill Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario Question: I have been quite impressed with you and was sorry to see you leave Ottawa. Being a young man and a long way from home, what kind of support do you have around you to deal with highs and lows (friends in NHL, team , league, other). Good luck this year. Bill When I first got to Ottawa I had one big supporter and that was Zdeno Chara, because he was from Slovakia, like me. He was great to me and I learned a lot from him. He helped me on the ice and off ice, and I really thank him for that. Unfortunately, he was traded and I was sort of by myself there, but by then, I kind of knew what to expect already. My family also came to visit me. They were with me basically every Christmas but the big support when I got to Ottawa was Zdeno, for sure. My English wasn’t as good as his at the time. Having him there was a great experience. After a while, I had a girlfriend and she helped me and my agent helped me, too. I don’t know as many people here in Tampa as I know in Ottawa, so if I have a problem, I’ll talk to my agent or my family or my girlfriend. Basically, last year, almost every month I had someone over here from Slovakia, so that was nice moral support. Last year was a little different; the hockey was tough last year because we were losing. That was something different for me. Now, I haven’t played for six months because of the injury, but I’m really excited. I can’t wait.
Name: Wade Crocker Hometown: Tampa Bay Question: Hey Andrej, my question is what was the biggest change you had to make to your game coming from the Slovak Extraliga and entering the WHL and eventually the NHL? The big thing is the speed, and then the physical game. Back home I was young, I was 18 years old, and I played in the men’s league. The guys were way older than I was and they played smart. Then I went to play junior hockey with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL (Western Hockey League). That was my biggest decision, but the best decision I could ever make, because right from there I jumped to the NHL. A lot of people told me it would be a step back, because I had played with the men and was now going back to juniors. A lot of good players were in the WHL that year, like Shea Webber who is now with Nashville and Dion Phaneuf of the Flames. Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks was also in the league. There were a lot of good players and it was a good league that year because of the lockout. Look at them now – they’re some of the best players in the NHL. Playing in the WHL was a great experience for me. I learned the English language and the North American style of play. The hockey is physical and fast. You have to read the play faster than usual. It was great and it helped me to get to the NHL right away. I jumped to Ottawa and got to play. I guess I got lucky a little bit, too, but when you work hard and you want to do it, the luck is going to come with you.
Name: Megan Hometown: Largo, FL Question: What is your favorite restaurant? Also, if you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing? Well, a favorite restaurant in Tampa? I don’t know. I don’t really have a favorite one but I like sushi, so for sushi, I’ll go anywhere. There are good steakhouses here – like Flemings, Roys, the Palm and Malios. Even Jackson’s is good. There are lots of good restaurants here. If I weren’t playing hockey? I don’t know, I would probably play something else. Maybe tennis or basketball. I don’t know. My dad’s brother used to play handball, so maybe that’s the one – I kind of like it. I like tennis, too. Whatever. Probably I’d do some sport if I didn’t play hockey.
Name: Nancy Pacini Hometown: Brandon, FL Question: What areas of your game do you feel you need to improve on, and what effect has the shoulder injury had on your ability to do so over the summer? Good luck this year, Andrej, I’m one of your biggest fans in Tampa and I hope you have a breakout season this year! Well, I have to improve on everything. As you play more and more, you learn from your mistakes. You watch a video and you see what you did wrong and next time, try to not do it. I’m still young and I have to improve on everything. Maybe the main area to work on is skating. That, and getting the puck on the net when I’m shooting, so the guys can get more rebounds. Shooting and skating, I think, I have to improve. About the effect of the injury, I don’t know. I’m really excited to play but obviously a little cautious, also, to see how the first hit will be. I’m trying to not think about it. Once the doctor says I’m good to go, I’m going to go hard and see how it is. I really want to get the season started and I want to jump in and play 82 games like I did over the three years before the last one.