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Tapped In: Trouba stays true to roots despite stardom

by Kathryn Tappen

Jacob Trouba, selected No. 9 in the 2012 NHL Draft, has lived up to his billing. An early-season injury kept the defenseman out of the lineup for a month, but in 54 games this season, Trouba has 26 points and 41 penalty minutes. Trouba credits a few current teammates for his success on the ice, recognizes a likely Hall of Fame member as his hockey idol, and earlier this week spoke about his Michigan teammates.

Kathryn Tappen: Fans on Twitter and have been asking me to get you for this feature. Did you know you have quite the following in your rookie campaign?

Jacob Trouba: [laughs] No.

KT: Maybe it's because they saw your personality when you hosted a segment "Pass the Mic" on the Jets website recently. Any future in broadcasting for you?

JT: I never really thought about it. I always thought after I'm done playing I was going to coach, but hopefully that's a ways away so I'll figure it out when the time comes.

KT: Why do you wear No. 8?

JT: It's a funny story. When I was in fifth grade, I tried out for Little Caesar's [hockey team], and I didn't make it. Someone pulled out for the spring season and I was the last person to be let on the team as a replacement. No. 8 was the only number left. It just stuck with me forever. I wanted to have it this year in Winnipeg because it's a great reminder to me about where I came from and how hard work pays off. Never let the NHL change who you are.

KT: Take me back to draft day 2012 in Pittsburgh. What was it like to hear your name being called in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets?

JT: I had a lot of family there. My dad's side of the family takes a family trip every summer so that was our trip that year. I had about six uncles and aunts on that side, and everyone was there. It was really cool. I remember being more nervous than I thought I would be. Leading up to it, I was fine and then that morning I got nervous. Once I sat down and the draft started going, I settled down a little bit. I was so happy to have my family there because of everything they've done for me; it was a great moment to share with them.

KT: You decided to leave University of Michigan after your freshman year to go pro. What was behind your decision and was there any trepidation?

JT: I didn't think about it much during the year, I was just worrying about hockey. But I was set on staying in college because I didn't have the first year that I wanted to have in college. I wanted my time at Michigan to really be remembered. My parents left the decision up to me. I had a meeting with Red [Berenson], our coach, and he told me that he felt I was ready. He's not known for letting guys go early, so I think that was a big thing for me. He had the confidence in me. But, in the end, it was something that I wanted to do. It was my decision and I was grateful my parents left that decision up to me.

Jacob Trouba
Jacob Trouba
Defense - WPG
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 18 | PTS: 26
SOG: 94 | +/-: 5
KT: You didn't waste any time endearing yourself to your teammates in Winnipeg. First NHL game you scored your first NHL goal.

JT: I remember after the game I was sitting next to Mark Scheifele on the bus and he scored that game too. Buff [Dustin Byfuglien] came walking on the bus and said "Hey, it's a pretty easy game isn't it boys?" I remember that being very funny. It was a great experience and something I'll always remember.

KT: Did you get the puck?

JT: The NHL framed it with a picture and the score sheet from the game. I had it sent to my house back in Michigan.

KT: Your Michigan Wolverines played in the first ever Big 10 Championship. How proud are you?

JT: I'm watching them for sure. I have a lot of good friends on that team. I've been following very closely this year and have stayed in touch with all of the guys on the team. They've played well this year.

KT: Fellow Jets prospect, Andrew Copp, is still on the team. Describe your relationship with him?

JT: I've played with him since I was about 10 years old. He's been one of my best friends. His dad was my coach for six years growing up. Our families are close as well. The way things worked out, he went to Michigan and then ended up getting drafted by the Jets. It's been a pretty cool experience to share with him and I am excited to see him here in Winnipeg one day.

KT: The Wolverines men's basketball team isn't too shabby either – fourth straight at-large bid in the NCAA tournament as the No. 2 seed. Do you have Michigan going all the way in your brackets?

JT: Oh yeah! I have a lot of heat for wearing my Michigan clothes around the locker room. They don't let me forget that I haven't cut the cord yet. I have to take Michigan all the way.

KT: You had a very traumatic injury back in October after crashing face-first into the board. You were taken off the ice on a stretcher and missed more than a month of action. What was it like to go through that so early in your career?

JT: It was the first time I've ever been seriously hurt. It was hard to not be able to play for the first time. There wasn't much I could do but sit around and wait to heal. Living with Zach [Bogosian] really helped me because he kept me loose and upbeat. The trainers were great with me and everyone was trying to help get me back onto the ice. It could have been a lot worse than it was, so I was thankful for that. It was one of those things you have to go through. The way the season broke up for me, I actually think in a weird way that injury almost helped a little bit. I wasn't used to playing this many games. I played 20, then missed some, then played 20 more, and then the Olympic break, and then we'll play 20 more. In a way, it helped space out the season, but it's definitely not something I want to go through again.

KT: You mentioned Bogosian. You both live together and spend a lot of time together off the ice as well as roommates. You have two bothers of your own, is Zach like a third?

JT: Yeah, that's pretty much how it is. We've never gotten in a fight. We are both very laid-back people. We have a good time at home joking around with each other. It works well. He's helped me so much this year, especially off the ice. He keeps me on track and keeps my head in the right place. Zach's been a great influence on me.

KT: I assume the famous "ram fights" you two participate in didn't go on in the house when you were out with an injury?

JT: [laughs] No. I had to take a break, but they're back now. But I've never won! He wins every single time. It's either I take it easy and let him win, or I try really hard and he tries even harder and then it gets dangerous.

KT: Who is the one player in the Jets locker room who has helped you most as a pro?

JT: Mark Stuart. His attitude and what he does every day, how he acts, is something I can learn from. He was hurt at the same time I was, so we were both rehabbing and then began skating again together. Watching how hard he works and what he does every day to be able to do what he does; he's a leader in our locker room and a great guy to look up to. He does a lot of things right and he's someone I should model myself after.

KT: Who was your hockey idol growing up as a kid in Michigan?

JT: Nick Lidstrom. I was a Red Wings fan, and he was right there. I watched him every single game. He's a good guy to watch.

KT: As a defenseman, were there areas of his game that you tried to emulate?

JT: He's a pretty tough guy to try and model your game after. I don't think anyone ever played like him. But I think how he does things, he's a simple player but when he gets his opportunity to do something on the ice he makes the other team pay.

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