"On the Fly" is a new regular feature on DallasStars.com. Senior digital correspondent Scott Burnside sits down with a member of the Stars for a few random, off-the-cuff questions to gain insight into their lives, thoughts and careers on and off the ice.
Today's edition features energetic forward and native of Roubaix, France, Antoine Roussel.
Previous installments: Jason Spezza | Jamie Benn | Stephen Johns | Kari Lehtonen | Tyler Pitlick | Marc Methot | Devin Shore
Scott Burnside: What's your first hockey memory?
Antoine Roussel: I don't know, it's hard. I remember when I was a kid, we played (in a) tournament -- and it's a funny story. We were playing the ball hockey in the hallways and stuff (between games). And ... we played, and then, they play with another team, for fun and stuff, and then the microphone (the public address system) says, 'Antoine Roussel is asking to be downstairs.' I'm like, 'There is another Antoine Roussel here?' And so, I end up almost missing the game. I was like, 'Yeah, really, there's two Antoine Roussel? Oh, that's odd.' It was in Parise, pretty close to Paris.
Video: NSH@DAL: Roussel bats in rebound out of midair
SB: Do you think your hockey experience growing up was really different than, say, Devin Shore's experience growing up playing hockey in Canada?
AR: Oh, yeah. Big time. We didn't have an ice rink in my backyard. Devin had one. His whole growing up, childhood -- you kidding me? We dreamed about stuff like that. We would come to Canada and first thing we look for was like a pond, so we can play on it, and I remember, we went (to) just play for fun, like friendly matches (in Canada). We found one (frozen pond) and we were so excited, and that was awesome for us. So, 100 percent, it was different for me. We'd play outside a little bit, but it's not as easy as it is in Canada to play. I would say, it's comparable to the South (to) kids here. It's very comparable to, like, Texas and everything like that. Even in Dallas, it's pretty nice because there's couple of teams in Dallas, but if you play in Houston hockey, there's only one team or two, and they've got to travel a lot. And that's exactly the same thing we had traveling, and sometimes, you had to (take a) three-hour ride to go to play a game. And even here, it's more organized than it is back home. Because you'd play one game -- three 10-minute (periods) -- and then, you drive back, and when you think about it, it's kind of stupid. Might as well play a couple of games if you're there the whole day. But that was just different thinking, I guess.
SB: Do you remember the moment that you thought, 'Okay, this could be my life?' Was there something that happened -- was there a moment where you were like, 'I can do this?'
AR: That was always my dream. That was my Plan A, but I always had a Plan B, too. My parents were relying on the Plan B -- that was not so much of a Plan B, but another Plan A. I remember when I finished junior (he played in Chicoutimi of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) after my 20 years old (season), I wasn't drafted. I play in a couple of camps, I went to Columbus, and that was it. And after that I met with my old coach, I was like, 'What do you think? Can you help me out getting a deal? Should I go to school or just try to keep playing, you know?' And he goes, 'School, you can always go in your life. Hockey's right now.' And for (me), that was a big moment that marked me and it gave me a chance. But at the same time, I never gave up on school at that time. I was still taking some distance classes and stuff. That was just when I signed with the Stars, and at some point, I'm (saying), 'Okay, just focus on your job here,' and that was really fortunate for me. It's different (for his parents to watch him play in the NHL now) because they don't know much about the game. Well, they think they know, but they don't, but it's nice they enjoy the game. My dad comes down and he takes pictures, that's his hobby. He just likes it. And my mom's watching the game, and she gets excited sometimes and that's it. They just enjoy the ride.
SB: You play a style where you're agitating and, sometimes, you end up fighting. Are you ever nervous or afraid? Do you ever say, 'Oh boy, Chris Thorburn's bigger than I thought?
AR: I think when you're afraid, you should not do it. That's when you will get hurt. You got to know what you're getting into and have the nerve to act on it sometimes. The best part of the day is just playing. Just the part before that, and just what's leading up to that, is just a pain in the ass.
Video: EDM@DAL: Roussel scores from behind the net
SB: Do you have a special hockey possession?
AR: By talking with Jason Spezza, he got me into collecting sticks of guys around the league. But for me, it's kind of hard to ask guys around the league for their stick because, usually, they don't like me, so I try to just sneak around and just ask trainers. Most times, they don't have sticks. They must know who is that for. I have a Jason Spezza wood stick and, to me, it's very valuable. And I have also a Mike Modano stick, which I got from the trainers here and Christa (Melia, the Stars' player relations manager), and she was very fortunate to give it to me. But I have a collection of pucks, too, like a signed puck from guys. Like I forgot to ask Brett Hull (last Saturday), but I'm sure I'm going to get him back at some point.
This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Scott Burnside is a senior digital correspondent for DallasStars.com. You can follow him on Twitter @OvertimeScottB, and listen to his podcast.
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