Last week fans on Tampabaylightning.com filled the inbox with questions for Jeff Halpern. 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 forward Vinny Prospal!
Name: Josh Chapman Hometown: Hamden, CT Question: Jeff, how do you psych yourself up before a game? Do you have any pre-game routines?
My pre-game routine changes so much because if I’m playing well, I’ll keep doing the same thing but as soon as I stop I’ll try something different. But it usually revolves around music – I’m somehow drifting into an 80’s – 90’s rock mentality so I listen to a lot of Metallica. I’m starting to outdate myself just by saying Metallica. That’s amazing to think of because I remember some of the older guys listening to their music and thinking they were old fashioned – now I’m turning into an old guy! Well, it happens.
Usually, I like to find 15 quiet minutes where I listen to music by myself and go over the game that way; and then get back into hanging out with the guys.
Name: Tanner Bailey Hometown: Clearwater, FL Question: Jeff, my questions pertains to your knee injury at the 2008 World Championships. My first question is how hard did you have to push yourself to get your knee in "game shape"? How many times a week were you working-out on it? Lastly, what was the feeling you got when you stepped onto the ice for your first game last season, knowing you worked so hard to get back on the ice? Thanks, and good luck next season Jeff.
The work to get back on the ice started as soon as the injury happened. Before the surgery I had to get my knee ready and then after the procedure rehab work started two days later. I pretty much worked on it straight through the end of the season. I’d give myself maybe one day off a week, but that was all.
As far as being game ready – I was finally able to play a game in December, but my knee was never at the point where I would have liked it to be. I would have liked to have a little more push behind it. I was still recovering.
I hurt my left knee six years ago and the first game I came back it felt good but it didn’t feel great until that following season, so I expected it to take a while. As the season went on, it got better and better and now even in the summer it’s getting better and better.
My first game back against Colorado was a pretty awesome experience for me. I think it’s hard to play in the NHL to begin with and jumping into the middle of the season I thought was going to be difficult and it was. I was so happy with everyone involved, from the surgeon, all the rehab people I worked with and all the people around me who had to watch me be grumpy for seven months, so it was nice to get that first game out of the way. After the first game (in which I scored) I was on pace to score 52 goals but it slacked off from there but it was definitely fun to get back.
Name: Kristi Hometown: Myakka City, FL Question: We went on a tour of the locker room during the last town-hall meeting. Along the wall were sticks from various players. Sitting amongst them was what appeared to be an oversized cooking whisk. We were told they use this for mixing the Gatorade. The odd thing was your name and number was labeled on the whisk. What's up with that?
What? I didn’t even know we had it. You mean a big goalie paddle? I’ve got no idea.
Name: Raymond D. Hometown: Lithia, FL Question: First off, I'd like to say that I really admire the way you go about yourself on and off the ice. I was wondering what way have you used your past NHL experiences to mentor the team's younger players like Steven Stamkos?
For one thing, Steven Stamkos doesn’t need much because he goes about his business the right way. The hardest thing for him was being an 18-year-old kid and last year there wasn’t anybody around even close to his age for him to hang out with. I always thought that would be a lonely experience. You always want a few guys at a similar age and point in life to go through things with, so for me, I tried to include him as much as I could around the rink or just kind of joking around. He’s such a good natured person and enjoys hockey, it’s easy to connect on those levels.
As far as his approach to a game, I think he watched everyone. We had some pretty good players [with the Lightning] last year as far as having NHL experience and I think he saw a lot of different ways to approach the game. As the year went on his efforts off the ice in the weight room and on the ice really paid off and he’s become an exceptional player. Whoever he’s looking up to – and I don’t know if it was me – did a good job.
Name: Megan Hometown: Largo, FL Question: What is your favorite restaurant? Also, if you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing?
My favorite restaurant in Tampa is Mise En Place. I also like a barbecue place on Platt named Smoke.
If I wasn’t playing hockey I’d probably be coaching hockey or talking to everyone about how I should be playing hockey!
Name: Peter Carey Hometown: Oldsmar Question: First off, I would like to tell you that you had a good season. What do you think the Lightning’s biggest problem is? Also, what do you think is your biggest impact on the team?
I guess when you finish at the bottom of the league there are a few problems. I think everyone that played last year did a really good job for some of the roles and minutes that they contributed, but the thing we were always missing was a big stud back on defense who could eat up minutes and calm things down for us. We had so many injuries that we never really had that calming influence, and then for all of us guys up front that makes it easier. We spent a lot of time in our own defensive end. That’s everyone’s fault; the defense and the forwards.
I have to mention that I was pretty impressed with the two defensive guys (Ohlund and Walker) we picked up in free agency. I think management did an unbelievable job of addressing the issue and getting what I think is one of the top guys out there (Ohlund) in that role. For myself, it was a frustrating year for me. At times I thought I was playing well, but I wasn’t used to coming back mid-season and having to get back in the swing of things that way. I like to be at the top of my game, so moving into next year, I want to be a guy who hounds the puck and cleans up in our defensive end, but contributes offensively as well. We have some studs on offense but a team needs that secondary scoring. I like to think that playing hard at both ends of the ice and being tough for other teams to play against is something I like to bring.
Name: Don Margeson Hometown: St. Petersburg Question: Jeff, have you done any mountain climbing or bike racing during the off season?
No bike racing, but I love mountain climbing. Not like where you’re dangling off a cliff but the two or three times in my life that I’ve done it, I’ve loved it. There are small falls here by my off-season home in Maryland and once in a while I’ll go climb on the rocks. It’s actually something I really enjoy doing, but I don’t get to do it too often.
Name: Bill Buchalski Hometown: Spring Hill Question: Good Afternoon Jeff. Do you think taking time off will make your knee stronger then last year? It seemed at times that you were struggling after the knee surgery.
Last season I felt ok, but I kept feeling better and better as time when on; I’m working on strengthening the knee and getting a good push behind it. This summer has been good for getting all that stuff back.
Name: Amanda Houck Hometown: Chester, MD Question: How's the knee? What are you looking forward to this upcoming season?
My goal is to win a Stanley Cup. Going into a new season, and especially having played for a while and not having won it, that’s my goal. I’m looking forward to showing up to training camp and being around the guys and feeling like I’m part of the initial push to get us where we want to be. I missed out on that last year but it’s always a fun part of being on a team, starting on day one and going forward to help the team to win the Stanley Cup.