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Getting To Know: Michael Del Zotto

by Jimi Russell / Nashville Predators

It’s been exactly a week since the Nashville Predators acquired defenseman Michael Del Zotto from the New York Rangers. He posted his first point as a Predator in the team’s 4-3 victory on Tuesday night in Winnipeg, and as the team returned from their four-game Western Canadian swing, (NP.COM) had a chance to catch-up with the 23-year-old blueliner.

NP.COM: How would you describe your game?

MDZ: The definite strength of my game is my offensive abilities; my vision and my passing are my biggest assets. I’ve really tried to work on the defensive side of my game the past couple seasons, and I really think of myself as a two-way defenseman.

NP.COM: How do you think your game fits in here in Nashville?

MDZ: We’re definitely a young defensive group. We were joking about it yesterday in Winnipeg, actually. I still feel like I’m pretty young, but when you look at games played, I’m not. But there is a lot of talent back there – a lot of mobile defensemen, who can really move the puck. Then Weber’s back there – he’s been one of the best defensemen in the League for a couple of seasons now. We really like the way we move the puck and our mobility, and, hopefully, that will allow us to spend a lot of time in the offensive zone.

NP.COM: You talk about the youth of this defense corps; what do you think the strengths and weakness are that come with youth?

MDZ: We have a lot of enthusiasm, energy and excitement back there. There will always be situations you can learn from no matter how long you’ve been in the game. We are all trying to get better each day. We all have to learn from these new experiences and, if there is a mistake, we have to correct that mistake and learn from it going forward.

NP.COM: Who was your hockey idol growing up and why?

MDZ: Bobby Orr. Obviously, he wasn’t still play when I was a kid, but he was my dad’s favorite player. That’s why, up until this point, I’ve wore No. 4 my whole life. He really changed the game for defensemen. He created that prototypical offensive-minded defensemen. He could control the play whenever he had the puck on his stick. If he wanted to speed it up or slow it down – he really did whatever he pleased out there.

NP.COM: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment as a player thus far?

MDZ: I scored the game-winning goal in Game Seven of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Capitals that sent us to the Conference Finals against the Devils. That was a pretty special moment for me.

Brad Richards scored early in the first period to give the Rangers the 1–0 lead, then Del Zotto scored at 10:05 of the third period to make it 2–0. Washington's Roman Hamrlik cut the score to 2–1 just 38 seconds after Del Zotto's goal, but the Capitals were unable to score another goal.

NP.COM: You’ve only been to Nashville a couple times in your career, but what’s your impression of the city?

MDZ: I’ve only been here twice, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about the city from the guys in New York and the guys that live here now. It’s an unbelievable city to visit and I know we have a very passionate fan base here. It is definitely a change of pace from New York City, but I excited to be here and for the opportunity to get comfortable in the city.

NP.COM: You’re in Music City now, so what’s on your playlist?

MDZ: Well, country isn’t at the top, but I have a feeling it’s going to work its way up there pretty quickly. I’m usually a house/electronic dance music (EDM) or hip-hop guy, but I do like a little bit of everything. I’m sure as I get more comfortable, country will get in the mix a little bit more.

NP.COM: What do you like to do for fun away from the ice?

MDZ: I’m usually up for anything. If I’m with the right company, with the right people, then I can usually have fun doing anything. Whether it’s as laid back as just playing video games or going bowling, I’m a pretty easy-going guy and I like to enjoy myself in whatever I’m doing.

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