Jordan Staal burst onto the NHL scene with an historic rookie season. The 18-year-old shattered several records and finished the year with 29 goals.
He became the third-youngest player in the NHL to score at least 20 goals. And, he tallied seven shorthanded goals, which led the NHL in 2006-07 and established a rookie record.
Following the NHL season, he was selected to play for Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship tournament in Moscow. He had two assists in nine games and helped Canada win the gold medal.
Jordan took some time to answer questions submitted by Penguins message board users.
Q: What was it like winning the gold medal at the IIHF World Championship this spring in Moscow?
|Jordan Staal kisses the World Championship trophy. (Getty Images) |
A: That was unbelievable, no question about it. Personally, I haven’t won too much in my career, even though it’s been short, but it was definitely an unbelievable experience. For us to top it off without getting beat in the whole tournament and being the underdogs, pretty much, and winning the championship – it was something we wanted to do for Canada.
Q: What did it feel like to play side by side with your brother on Team Canada?
A: It was an awesome experience to begin with. To play with my brother made it better. There’s no better feeling than standing on that blue line singing “O Canada” beside your brother. It’s an experience I will never forget.
Q: How do you feel after coming into the NHL drafted second overall, was there a lot of pressure to be successful?
A: It was definitely awesome, It was a surprise to me as well. I never really expected to make the team this year. For it to turn out the way it did, it was great. Hopefully, we can grow together as a group and get better.
Q: How did you feel about scoring 29 goals as an 18-year-old?
A: It didn’t dawn on me how well I was playing. I was just kind of going out and playing hockey and not really worrying about anything. I think that’s part of the reason I was playing so well. I had really no weight on my back or anything like that. Hopefully, I can just keep doing that.
Q: What was your most memorable moment of the season?
A: Personally, probably my hat-trick in Toronto. It was my first game in Toronto and I had grown up watching the Leafs all my life and to play in front of that crowd and have the game I did, it was definitely a special moment.
Q: What part of your game do you plan on working on the most in the offseason?
A: A lot of my speed. I think I have to be faster. I have to get quicker feet and stuff like that. I want to work on the same things I have been doing well and just keep getting better in all those different situations.
Q: What was your fondest memory of playing against your brother last season?
A: We had a face-off one time. We had a get on a Gatorade for the face-off. I ended up losing it and I ended up giving him the Gatorade after the game. Just little things like that. We kind of chirp each other and stuff like that. In that series, we lost three out of the four games, so hopefully we can get it this season.
|Jordan Staal celebrates one of his 29 goals. (Pittsburgh Penguins) |
Q: How was it living at Mark Recchi’s house this past season and how did he help you adapt to life in the NHL?
A: It was awesome. It was a perfect fit for me, I think. Recchi is a great guy. He has an unbelievable family and they just took me in. Recchi helped me out a lot, just with the little things. Part of it was just that I didn’t have to think about a lot of things off the ice, I could just focus on what I had to do on the ice. There weren’t huge things that he helped me out with, it was just all the little things that probably made me more focused.
Q: If you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing?
A: Well, with the way I have been golfing, hopefully golfing.
Q: What are your favorite and least favorite teams to play against?
A: My least is probably New Jersey. I don’t know what it is. I just never like playing against that team. My favorite team to play against is Toronto. The atmosphere is always unbelievable, even in Pittsburgh because there are so many Toronto fans that come to those games. You always get up for those games.
Q: What is it like working on your family’s sod farm when you were growing up?
A: It was hard work, no question about it. It wasn’t easy; it was a lot of long hours in the hot sun. It definitely kept us all grounded and made us want to work that much harder at our hockey skills, considering we didn’t want to end up like our old man (laughs). It was always a lot of fun and we all worked hard and I think it paid off.
Q: Do you think you’ve changed or grown over your rookie year in the NHL?
A: I think so .Toward the end of year, I was feeling a lot more comfortable. I kind of knew what was going on and what to expect coming into the next day. I definitely learned a lot from a lot of players, even just from Sid and all the older guys as well. I just tried to soak in as much as I could and tried to learn as much as I could.
Q: PS3 or Xbox360?
A: PS3. I just bought one.
Q: Besides winning the Stanley Cup, what is another ambition or dream that you have that you want to accomplish?
A: An Olympic gold medal, for sure. Every kid dreams of playing for Team Canada and there’s no bigger team than playing for the Olympic team. That would definitely be my next step besides the Stanley Cup.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do in the offseason?
Q: What other sports do you enjoy besides hockey?
A: Golf. I like to wakeboard and stuff like that and go tubing. Nothing too strenuous.
Q: Who are the guys on the team you hang out with most?
A: I hang out with a lot of them. I am really close to Armstrong, Sid and Talbot and a lot of other guys, to be honest. We’re all really close. I can’t really single out too many guys.