Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up in West Haven, Connecticut. That’s my hometown.
Q: How old are you?
Q: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
A: I have one older brother who’s four years older than me.
Q: What’s his name?
A: Billy, William.
Q: Who got you interested in playing hockey?
A: Pretty much, my brother. I wanted to do everything he did and he played hockey growing up, so I always followed him and kind of tagged along with his friends. We always played street hockey and got involved in skating.
Q: How old were you when you first started skating?
A: I started skating when I was 3. Then around 4 I started picking up a hockey stick and tried to skate around shooting pucks.
Q: Were you always smaller than the other players?
A: Growing up, no. I was always probably the biggest guy out there. Until I was about 14-years-old, I kind of stayed the same size and everyone else took off on me. So now it’s safe to say, I’m one of the shortest guys out there.
Q: Was that a weird adjustment for you, being bigger than everybody and then all of a sudden having to adjust to being smaller than the guys?
A: Not really. I didn’t change anything. I played the same way. If anything, it just mentally got me stronger because I was always told I wouldn’t make it because I was just too small. It kind of gave me the fire and that edge, I think, to make it to this level.
Q: Do you ever get tired of talking about your height?
A: It gets old after a while, the jokes and stuff get old, but I’m so used to hearing it; it just goes in through one ear and right out the other.
Q: Do other players ever joke around with you about it?
A: Oh, yeah. Everybody.
Q: What kind of stuff do they say?
A: You get the “midget” a lot. You know, I don’t even remember a lot of the things. I don’t listen to anybody, I just laugh at them and shake it off.
Q: Is your size ever an advantage?
A: I guess so. With my low center of gravity, when a lot of guys hit you, I think they think they’re going to really bury you, but I’d like to think that when they hit me it’s the opposite and they’re like, “Wow.” It’s a lot stronger than they expected. The way I play, my style of game, I like to hit, I like to play chippy and I’m probably not as tall as lot of the guys, but I think I am a lot heavier and wider than most so that’s where I get my advantage.
Q: What were the most goals you ever scored in one season, going all the way back to when you were a kid?
A: That’s a tough question. I don’t know, probably 50, maybe, in high school. Yeah. I don’t even know how many games. I never really kept track of that.
Q: What high school was that?
A: Gunnery and Westminster.
Q: That’s in Connecticut?
A: Connecticut. Yeah, prep school.
Q: Who was your hockey hero?
A: I always enjoyed Dougie Gilmore, he was a great player. Patty Verbeek, Dino Cicarelli, those guys. Growing up close to Boston, Cam Neely has always been one of my favorite players. Just the way he played every game, he played with power, finesse and he scored a lot of big goals. It was fun to watch.
Q: What nationality are you? Does your family honor ethnic traditions?
A: Half Italian and half Polish. Not really, not too much. We don’t get caught up in all that.
Q: You’ve had two incidents with the Ottawa Senators where you injured defensemen with hits into the end boards. Can you describe how you felt after those incidents?
A: The first one was a situation where I wasn’t trying to hurt him when I hit him. (Christoph Shubert of the Ottawa Senators) We collided and I guess my low center of gravity took over and he went pretty hard into the boards. Obviously you’d never want to see a guy get hurt, especially in that situation. The way he went in was pretty scary. He was in our training room and the first thing I did was to go and make sure that he was OK and apologize and let him know that I wasn’t trying to run him or do anything dirty. After we played them a few days later, I actually talked to their assistant coach and I asked how the kid was doing. He said that he understood it was just a freak situation. After they watched the video, they understood that I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was glad to see him back playing. The hit on Andrej Meszaros was a hit I had made many times throughout my career and I’ll do it again. It was just a simple bodycheck. He happened to cut back into me and he was down low. I don’t know if my shoulder caught his head or what happened but I think it was just a freak incident and again, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Q: How do you like playing on a line with Ryan Malone and John LeClair?
A: The All-American line. It was a great opportunity for me. At first a lot of these young kids were getting a great opportunity to play. I’m coming back from a serious injury, my shoulder, and I’m trying to get my game back and find my game again get a rhythm, and I think I found great chemistry with those two guys.
Q: What was your most memorable hockey moment?
A: Probably winning the AHL MVP. That was a big accomplishment for me. I’m not exactly sure of the stat but I think I was the first American to win it since maybe the 1950s so I took that as quite an honor.
Q: Was there a particular moment that you would just as soon forget?
A: I’d have to go way back to Pee Wee Hockey or I might have been a Squirt. We were playing in a tournament and the goalies wore the same jerseys a lot. I don’t know why, but we wore blue and the other team’s goalie wore a blue jersey but everyone else was all wearing white jerseys. I’m color blind, not that that had anything to do with it, but I scored a goal on my own goalie, and it was a nice goal. I shelved it. Everyone’s looking at me like, what are you doing? I was very upset with myself.
Q: How old were you then?
A: I was probably 11-years-old. I came back strong, though. I scored three straight to win the game.
Q: Do you think the Penguins have a bright future?
A: Yeah. You look at the kids here and everyone’s young. Obviously with Sid here, Fleury doesn’t get as much recognition as Sid, but right now I’d say that if it wasn’t for Fleury we would be getting blown out of the games. I don’t think people realize how good this kid really is. He’s the real deal. Fleury’s the next Marty Brodeur, Patrick Roy. And with Malkin coming, another great guy who looks like he’s the real deal. I think it’s pretty exciting here for the franchise and a lot for the fans to look forward to.
Q: What are your impressions of Pittsburgh as a hockey town?
A: It’s a city that obviously loves their sports and they support us pretty well, we finished down in the standings here and we’re getting pretty close to selling out [every home game]. It says a lot about the people of Pittsburgh. I wish we could get that new rink going. They deserve it. It’s more for the fans and the community than for us. The people that come and support us deserve to be able to sit in a nice arena and enjoy a beverage, a pretzel, or popcorn and see the product on the ice.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: I actually picked up a guitar a few years ago and I’ve been teaching myself how to play a little bit. I think once I get some free time that I’ll take a lesson and take myself to the next level.
Q: Where do you live in the off season?
A: I live in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I built a house there a few years ago and that’s where we go. It’s on the beach and that’s where we want to be.
Q: Are you married?
Q: Any children?
A: I have one girl, 2 and a half, and another girl on the way.
Q: What is your daughter’s name?
Q: What’s your wife’s name?
Q: Do you like movies? Obviously you like music. Name some of your favorite movies and bands.
A: Braveheart and Gladiator are probably my top two movies. Tough to say a favorite band. I have a lot of them. I’m into Staind, Nickelback, a lot of alternative stuff, hard rock.
Q: Do you play the same kind of stuff?
A: Same stuff
Q: If you could have dinner with any one person in this world, who would it be?
A: I’d have to go with Kid Rock. I think he’s a pretty wild guy. From what I hear, he’s just a down to earth person and likes to have a good time. Also the group Motley Crue, back in the day. I’d like to go on a dinner party with those guys.