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Preds' Wilson gets chance to face idol Jagr

by John Manasso
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- When Jaromir Jagr was winning scoring titles and Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early '90s, Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson was an infant.

Nonetheless, Wilson, 22, whose father Carey was an NHL player, grew up with Jagr as his favorite player. On Saturday when the Predators host the Philadelphia Flyers, Wilson will get to play against his idol for the first time.

"I love the way he plays," Wilson said.

Wilson said his father was fairly particular about who he picked as his favorite player. Wilson said at one point one of his favorites was the New York Rangers' Mike Richter -- a one-time teammate of his father's -- but Carey Wilson told Colin that he needed to pick a player who was not a goaltender.

"I think he likes Jagr, the way he plays," Wilson said. "He's pretty critical of some of the players I liked growing up. … He was good with Jagr because he was a big, skilled player."

At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Wilson isn't quite Jagr's 6-3, 240, but he is a wide body. He said he has tried to emulate some parts of Jagr's game.

"He makes one move wide and he cuts in and there's not much you can do about that," Wilson said, "and I try to play that same game. I'm a bigger body, but nothing compared to him. I think I want to use my hands and skill like he does. Again, everything to an extent, but try to do things like that."

Trotz was asked about the "awe factor" for some of his young players who will compete against the likes of Jagr. Nashville has the League's youngest team.

"I don't know if there's any way to do it," he said. "You just say, 'Hey, this guy's a good player. You've got to respect what he can do but don't respect him too much because time and space will be death. Death to you and death to the team.'"

Wilson is well aware of the pitfalls of defending Jagr, especially with him playing on arguably the League's top line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Jagr has 12 goals and 20 assists in 36 games while Giroux is tied for second in the NHL with 49 points and Hartnell has 19 goals.

"You don't want to give him too much room," Wilson said. "At the same time, you can't go right into him because he's so big. Do a quick turn and as soon as he gets an edge on you, you can't do much about it. It'll help a bit defending, having studied his game, but I haven't watched him too much this year because we've been playing, so I don't know, maybe he's picked something up when he went back to the Russian leagues."
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