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Wings Encounter: Jonathan Ericsson

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

KANATA, Ontario – In the National Football League, he’s famously referred to as Mr. Irrelevant – the last player taken in the April draft.

While Jonathan Ericsson was the NHL’s equivalent – taken with the 291st and final pick in the 2002 amateur draft – he plays an essential role on the Red Wings’ defense.

The 6-foot-5 blue liner is one of 105 players from his draft class to play in at least one NHL game. Only 35 have logged more than the 424 games that Ericsson has played in a Red Wings sweater.

Since the NHL held its first draft in 1963, only 11 last picks has reached his goal of playing in the league, and just Gerry Meehan (1963), Kim Johnsson (1994) and Patric Hornqvist (2005) has played more games than Ericsson.

On Monday in Ottawa, Ericsson will play in 100th consecutive game.

Now, let’s get to know more about this 31-year-old defenseman:

JONATHAN ERICSSON

Jonathan Ericsson

STATUS: Red Wings defenseman in the second season of a six-year contract worth $25.5 million.

DOB: March 2, 1984

FIRST HOCKEY MEMORY: “I think it was just from being in the locker room when my dad played. Just being with those older guys in the locker room after games and practices. Being there was fun being around those guys and having my own stick back then.”

HOCKEY HEROES: “I would say Marion Lemieux and Nicklas Lidstrom.”

LAST BOOK READ: “I’m reading one right now. It’s a Swedish one. In translation it’s ‘Bear Dance’. It’s like a criminal league of really smart guys doing some heists on banks. I’m only 80 pages in, but it’s exciting so far.”

CURRENT CAR: “A black 2010 Audi.”

FIRST JOB: “I was doing both youth camps as a coach, which I was getting paid to do. But I also worked at an ice cream storage company, getting orders together in the freezers and the trucks. It was Triumph Ice Cream in Sweden.”

GREATEST SPORTS MOMENT: “I thought it was really cool to play in the Olympics. It was more about the atmosphere with all of the athletes all over the place and the different arenas in Sochi. It was a very unique experience being around so many great athletes from all of these different sports.”

MOST PAINFUL MOMENT: “It would have to be seeing the times when family members aren’t feeling good.”

FAVORITE UNIFORMS: “I really like the Red Wings’ classic winged wheel, so I really have to say that.’

LIKE THE RED OR THE WHITE?
“I gotta say that I prefer the red because it’s the home jersey. Saying that I think if the white jersey were the home jersey I’d like that better.”

FAVORITE ARENA: “I’ve got to say Chicago. The national anthem there just gets you going.”

CLOSEST HOCKEY FRIENDS: “The one sitting right here (Niklas Kronwall), he’s the closest you could have. But all of my friends, most of them at least, are hockey related. Nik is good. From Day 1 when I met him he’s been a really good guy. I didn’t know him before I got over here. He let me stay at his house and we got to know each other more and more and became close friends and someone I can trust. That’s a big thing.”

FUNNIEST HOCKEY PERSON KNOWN: “There are lots of funny guys, even in this room. I really think Homer (Tomas Holmstrom) was one of the funniest.”

TOUGHEST COMPETITORS FACED: “No one’s really standing out. I would saying someone like Pavel (Datsyuk), but I’m not playing him. He’s tough to go against in practice.”

MOST MEMORABLE GOAL: “Probably in the (Stanley Cup) finals in ’09 against Pittsburgh.”

FUNNY HOCKEY MEMORY: “I know there have been a couple of funny shootouts with people falling, like (Patrick) Eaves. That was pretty funny.”

FAVORITE PLAYERS TO WATCH: “Pavel.”

FAVORITE SPORT OUTSIDE HOCKEY: “Right now I’ve got to say tennis. I like to play it and like to watch it. If I wouldn’t have played hockey … tennis is a fun sport. I think it’s a beautiful sport, especially when Roger (Federer) plays.”

FAVORITE MOVIE: “I’ve said the same movie for a few years and I’m gonna stick with it: ‘Man on Fire’ is a movie that really gets to me. It’s emotional and I think it’s really good. You really need to see it.”

IF NOT A HOCKEY PLAYER, WHAT: “I would probably be a building architect, that’s what I was doing my studies for. If I could pick another sport I would be a tennis player.”

HIDDEN TALENTS: “If I did I wouldn’t want anyone to know, because they’re hidden.”

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO HAVE: “I have to know where I have my stuff. I wouldn’t say that I’m organized in a perfect way, but I just have to know where everything is.”

MOST ATHLETIC TEAMMATE: “I’m gonna say Glennie because he is an all-around athlete. He’s unbelievably fit and the most-physically strong. He’s a monster.”

NICKNAME: “I have a lot of nicknames. E, Big E, and other stuff that I’m not going to get in to.”

PREFERRED JERSEY NUMBER: “I grew up with No. 21 because my dad had that so I played with that as a young kid. My brother also wears that, so 21 would probably be more special to me. Fifty-two was given to me, so I just stay with it.”

OFF DAYS: “Spending as much time with my daughter and wife as possible.”

MOST FAMOUS PERSON IN PHONE: “Probably Pavel, or Z, don’t you think?”

FIRST PURCHASE AFTER SIGNING CONTRACT: “I bought my 2007 Mustang GT. I really like the American muscle, just the sound of them. It was the car that I really liked when I was young kid.”

GUILTY PLEASURES: “I like ice cream and all other sweets. I like the one that Häagen-Dazs has Sea Salt and Truffle, I think. It’s very good.”

ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO DO/HAVE BEFORE EVERY GAME: “I really don’t have anything. I’m not really superstitious. I’m doing my routine, but not exactly the same. Some guys have to do things at certain times and certain ways. That’s not me.”

MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL: “Both. But actually now I’m more of a morning person.”

IF YOU COULD BE SOMEONE’S TEAMMATE FOR A DAY, WHO: “I would have wanted to see what Michael Jordan’s day is like.”

GO BACK IN TIME MOMENT: “It would be kind of cool to go back to a lot of different times. It would be interesting to see how man used to survive when they were hunting with spears.”

MOST EMBARRASSING CHILDHOOD MOMENT: “There was this time when I was in the driveway shooting pucks on the house. It was a brick house and one hit the side of bricks, took a different angle over the bushes and through our living room window. It hit my sister’s glass of chocolate milk where she was sitting on the couch. I saw this and was like, ‘Oh, my God!’ I was jumping around saying, ‘Oh what I have I done?’ It was just embarrassing how I behaved and freaked out. I was maybe like 11.”

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