As the second half of the Dallas Stars' season gets ramped up, a new regular question-and-answer series makes its debut on DallasStars.com.
In "On the Fly," senior digital correspondent Scott Burnside will sit down with a member of the Stars for five random, off-the-cuff questions to gain insight into their lives, thoughts and careers on and off the ice.
First up, veteran Stars forward Jason Spezza.
Scott Burnside: Best hockey gift or purchase? The thing you remember most in terms of a hockey present or purchase.
Jason Spezza: Most memorable was my grandparents bought me a gold, Easton aluminum (stick) when I was 9-years-old because I got MVP of a tournament in Buffalo. It was my incentive for the tournament. I still have it. Yeah, it's at my house. It's a gold, Easton aluminum. And I used wood sticks my whole life, but I used a gold, Easton aluminum for that little period because I got it from Buffalo when they first came out. I was like 8 or 9 years old. I used wooden sticks as a kid out of necessity. My uncle stole a dozen from his junior team and I used the same sticks until I was about 8 years old, and then I got used to them as I got older.
Video: DAL@DET: Radulov feeds Spezza for power-play goal
SB: Do you remember the first time you were ever asked for an autograph, or someone wanted to interview you, and what that was like for you?
JS: I don't remember the first autograph, but one of the first interviews I did was with ESPN The Magazine when they were doing their 'Next' edition and E.J. Hradek came over to my house and that was kind of big -- the first big thing. I'd had some local media coverage when I was 13 and they'd come to my high-school games and I was scoring lots of points, and I'd do interviews that way. But the first big interview I did was with E.J. Hradek for ESPN The Magazine. I was like 14, 15 probably at the time. It was ESPN The Magazine, so they weren't really doing a whole lot of hockey at the time, so it was definitely pretty cool that you were getting recognized on more of a national level, I guess.
SB: What's the best advice you'd give to your 18-year-old self?
JS: That's a tough question, on the spot. I would say just keep enjoying the game, not take any day for granted because it's pretty fun getting a chance to do what you're doing. I think sometimes when you're a young player, you take for granted all the wins and all the days and the success you're having. I would just say just keep enjoying the game and try and grow with it.
SB: If there was one thing you could change about yourself, what would it be?
JS: I would probably train smarter at a younger age maybe to avoid some back problems that I had. And I think I probably played through injury too much early in my career. I would say that's probably (what) my biggest one would be. I played through injury when I was 22 instead of just getting surgery right away. I think I made (the decision) on my own. I was influenced by how good our team was. It was in an Olympic year. I made the Olympic team and our team was one of the best teams in the league. So, I felt like it was an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup and to play in the Olympics, so I played through a herniated disc, but I couldn't walk and did some damage to my nerve. That probably took me a few years to recover from that.
Video: DAL@NYR: Spezza beats Pavelec to seal shootout win
SB: What's the worst hockey injury either you sustained, or that you've seen?
JS: Probably seeing Erik Karlsson's Achilles (tendon) being cut. It was probably the most gruesome that I've seen because you could see right down into the bone. I still have a picture of it on my phone that I, every once in a while, when I go to upload a new phone, you see it by mistake and you wish you didn't. We were good buddies so we took the picture and we wanted to make sure we were kind of documenting what was going on. But I would say that's the most gruesome injury. I saw when it was cleaned out and they kind of opened it up before they fixed it, so it was all cleaned out, too. So it was quite gruesome.
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter at @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his Burnside Chats podcast here.