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Ask The Leafs: Mikael Renberg

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Welcome to a new feature on where you can ask a question of a member of the Maple Leafs each week and see selected answers posted here. You will also be able to see the answers on FanCam, one of the more popular shows on Leafs TV.

This week you can ask Alyn McCauley anything you like. We will pick the best questions for him and Alyn's answers will appear here and also on the FanCam episode Saturday, March 8 at 11:30 am. FanCam also has repeat broadcasts throughout the week so check the Leafs TV schedule.

Recently, we had the chance to do a Q+A with Maple Leafs' winger Mikael Renberg.

Q: What was it like to play hockey in Sweden as a kid and how old were you when you started playing?

Mikael: I started to skate when I was five, but I didn't start playing hockey until I was 6 or 7. We never played inside, only on outside rinks. I remember we had a limit, it couldn't be colder than -15. If it was, we wouldn't practice. It was kind of fun!

Q: Was it always your dream to play professional hockey?

Mikael: When I was a kid we didn't know or see a lot of NHL on TV, so my biggest dream as a kid was to play with the Swedish national team. Once I got older and got cable then I saw a couple of games, and then that was my dream to play in the NHL.

Mikael Renberg
Q: 3. What was it like to be drafted to the NHL?

Mikael: That was very exciting. I was invited over to Vancouver with my agent where the draft was and that's when I got drafted into the Philadelphia Flyers. It was so exciting, I called my Dad right away, I mean I didn't know if I was going to play in the NHL, but definitely from that day on I really worked to make it to the NHL and eventually I did.

Q: Was the language barrier hard to deal with as a first time player in the NHL?

Mikael: Not really. because kids in Sweden learn English in school. So I remember when I was 9 years old we started to study English. Sweden is such a small country you have to pick up other languages. I picked up English and a little bit of German.

Q: 5. What is the greatest NHL moment in your career so far?

Mikael: I remember my first year a lot. I can remember almost every single game. It was a big thrill - it was great. I also played in the Stanley Cup finals in '97, so I would have to say that would have to be the biggest experience of my career.

Q: What was it like to play with Mats Sundin for the 2002 Sweden Olympic team?

Mikael: It's always great to play with Mats. He's a big hero back in Sweden. I think with him and Peter Forsberg that they're the best hockey players Sweden has ever had. I've played a couple of times with Mats for the National Team. First time was in 1998 in the World Championship - which we won - then in the Olympics in 1998 and 2002 and of course here. It's always great to play with him.

Q: 7. What's the hardest team to play against as a Leaf?

Mikael: Probably Detroit. I think Detroit has the best team in the league. I think they've proved that the past couple of years that they've won the Stanley Cup. It's pretty impressive. But there's a lot of good teams out there and you have to concentrate every game no matter who you play because if you don't, you're going to loose. But if I had to pick one team I would pick Detroit.

Q: 8. What do you eat before a game?

Mikael: You eat the same stuff, you eat pasta and chicken. We basically eat that every game, so in the summer I try to stay away from that because I know during the season I eat the same stuff.

Q: Do you get nervous before a game?

Mikael: Oh ya! You always do, that's a feeling that I think you have to have. You need to be a little nervous -- that's going to make you a little more concentrated I think.

Check back in upcoming weeks for the next installment of ASK THE LEAFS.
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