Center Steven Reinprecht is off to a great start in his first season in a Panthers uniform. The 33-year old Edmonton, Alberta native leads the team in goals (10) and is tied for the lead in points (17). He recently sat down with floridapanthers.com to answer questions submitted by Panthers fans, answering questions about his favorite pre-game meal, college hockey, shootouts and coming to Florida.
Why did you go to college as opposed to playing junior hockey?
Reinprecht: “For me it was the right route. I had the option to go major junior, but physically I think having a few more years to develop and get my education was the right route for me. Plus getting your education paid for and playing the game you love is a great way to do it.”
Who was your favorite player growing up?
Reinprecht: “I grew up in Edmonton in the 1980s and it was Gretzky.”
How much time did you spend skating growing up, and did your parents stress school or hockey?
Reinprecht: “Yes, school was always the number one priority growing up. It was take care of that and go and have your fun whether it was hockey, baseball or whatever sports my buddies and I were into. I would go to the outdoor rink a lot. When you’re growing up you may have a couple practices a week, but for the most part my buddies and I would mess around out on the ice.”
Did you expect to be drafted and were you disappointed when you were not?
Reinprecht: “You know what, my draft year I broke my leg and was out for quite a while. When you grow up you always think about being drafted, that it would be so cool. But the truth is if you’re not drafted in the first couple rounds it’s almost better to slip through and, for me, it was the perfect scenario. I got to slip through and got to develop and when I came out I had a few teams interested in me.”
With so many shootouts, do you see a day when there’s a shootout specialist position in the future for goalies and/or players?
Reinprecht: “I don’t think there’s going to be a specialist, a guy that would dress for shootouts. If you have 18 skaters on a team, minus the two goalies, you would think three of them would be pretty good at shootouts, or at least that night. So I don’t think there’ll be a sole specialist.”
What kind of stick do you use?
Reinprecht: “Easton Synergy. I switched to the one piece after my first year and I’ve enjoyed it.”
What’s your favorite NHL city when traveling?
Reinprecht: “I like Chicago, I think that’s a neat city. I’m a fan of playing in the United Center. It’s a good atmosphere.”
What was your first thought about coming Florida?
Reinprecht: “That was great. I was actually in Spain when it all went down. It was a neat feeling. Obviously, I knew there was interest but until it’s done you kind of put things on hold. But I was excited.”
Do you get more confidence from being the team’s leading scorer?
Reinprecht: “I don’t necessarily think of it in that regard. You have to have confidence if you want to play the game or you start second guessing yourself. It’s just something I try to maintain whether things are going well or not.”
What’s your pregame meal?
Reinprecht: “Spaghetti with meat sause.”
What’s your pregame ritual?
Reinprecht: “I’m not much for pregame rituals. I ride the bike and stretch.”
When did you decide hockey would be your career?
Reinprecht: “When I first signed with L.A., out of college. I never really thought about it until almost the end of my college career. I was focused on college hockey and school. Our team had a good year my senior year and we did well. Guys got the opportunity and that’s the way it unfolded.”
This email starts Hi Uncle Steve: What is your favorite hockey memory from the teams you’ve played for? It’s signed, ‘Love, Andrew Y.’
Reinprecht (smiling): “That’s my nephew. My favorite memory is the year I won the Stanley Cup with Colorado. A Stanley Cup moment.”