"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.
For this week's edition, we caught up with defenseman Greg Pateryn, a native of Sterling Heights, Michigan and a former fifth-round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has settled into a shut-down role with Dallas, having been acquired by the Stars from Montreal at the 2017 trade deadline.
Previous installments: Jason Spezza | Jamie Benn | Stephen Johns | Kari Lehtonen | Tyler Pitlick | Marc Methot | Devin Shore | Antoine Roussel | Jackie Seguin
Scott Burnside: So, let's start here, what was your first hockey memory?
Greg Pateryn: Wow, that probably takes me back a long way, but I do remember the first time I was ever on the ice in full gear and with pucks at Fraser Ice Arena (in Fraser, Michigan). My dad took me there, probably a 5:30, 6 o'clock skate with 50 other little kids on the ice and skating around and stuff. Oh, yeah, definitely in the morning. It was so cold, but I just had a blast, and it was so fun from Day 1. My dad, he played a little bit -- just pick-up growing up in high school. It was just something that he enjoyed. He always said he'd drive over to Windsor and play hockey with some of his buddies, but that was once or twice every once in a while. But no, no hockey relationship of any sort in my family. It's just kind of something I picked up and my parents put me in, and they were so supportive through everything.
Video: DAL@COL: Pateryn nets his first goal of the season
SB: What was the moment where either you knew or your parents knew or someone told you, 'You know what, you're pretty good, this could be something?'
GP: You know, not really at all. And I think that's kind of what has always been pushing me through everything is I never had someone saying, 'Oh, you can be a great NHL player one day.' It was just always like, you're going to have to work through all this. There's these guys in front of you and this is where you are and everything, and I think that just kind of always gave me a little extra motivation through everything. But I think personally, I kind of always believed that if I worked at it, and I just worked on the things that I needed to and took the advice from other people, I'd find a way to make it work. I think with the hardships you go through, there always is that self-doubt that creeps in every once in a while. Especially when things are going bad -- and anyone that's been in this business knows that it's a rollercoaster and there's some low points and there's some high points. Those low points, you're brain, it's only human to creep into aspects like that, and even through that, just keeping on believing in yourself was something that I always had the mindset for.
SB: What is your favorite or most treasured hockey possession?
GP: All the jerseys of all the teams that I've played on throughout all the years. I think that's really cool to have. Seeing the different numbers and the different logos and colors that I've gone through, but also I think my first NHL goal puck is on a plaque in my house, so that's something it'll always be cool to have with me. Everyone was really excited for me, so they made sure to get the puck for me. I wasn't worried about that. It's something that you want to hold onto for a while and show your kids one day. It was 4-on-4 against Buffalo and the pass came out to me on the point and I just one-timed it and it just found the back of the net. There was a big sense of relief. There was a lot of excitement, too.
SB: What is one skill that people would be surprised to know that Greg Pateryn possesses? Not a hockey skill, something else.
GP: I guess something that really surprises everyone is I'm actually 100 percent Ukrainian, so I'm fluent in Ukrainian so I can converse a little bit, but I can understand (Alexander) Radulov when he's speaking Russian and stuff. It's funny. I'll just kind of throw random stuff at him sometimes and he's just thrown off a little bit, and I usually catch -- even with other Russians that I've played with before -- I catch them with stuff like that, too. It's on both parents' side, so all four of my grandparents came over from there, and then, so growing up, I only spoke that to them. In our house it was I guess secondary, kind of hybrid English/Ukrainian type thing. I haven't used it in fluently in so many years. It's gotten a little spotty. There's not really odd things that (Radulov) says it's just part of his personality. He's very unique and he's a really -- he's definitely one of a kind. He is by far one of the greatest people and players that I've ever been able to be around.
SB: If you were to meet up with 18-year-old Greg Pateryn, what advice would you give him?
GP: Honestly, I think that'd be tough, but I think just the biggest thing is that everything works out. I think it is something that I've had to teach myself that aspect of it. It's so mental for me. It'd be so easy to get down sometimes, and you'd have to realize and find ways to keep yourself positive and not only look at the bright side of things, but find ways to eliminate those bad thoughts. Not even the doubts, but sometimes just the negativity that can come along with going through all this from a young age. I think that was something that I really had to focus on and was something that I took pretty seriously because I knew if I wanted to make it, I had to be able to handle a lot.
Video: MTL@DAL: Pateryn delivers huge check on Morrow
SB: What's your favorite way to fill in time on road trips or off days? Are you a reader or a TV or movie guy?
GP: On the road, I spend a lot of time reading. I have a Kindle I got a few weeks ago from my wife as a gift and that's just made things a lot easier instead of carrying around a bunch of books, and it makes it a lot easier to just pick up and read. But also, Netflix is huge. Netflix is a big thing. Sometimes, you just need to shut your brain off and have a little mindless time for yourself. Fiction. I like murder mysteries and I like Dan Brown books, whatever those would be classified as. Thriller. I actually read a James Paterson book this summer called "The Games." That was really good. And I guess I wouldn't say it's fiction, but it's not a thriller. I think that's a really good one. It was really hard to put down. (On Netflix, I watch) "Altered Carbon." It's a little sci-fi and futuristic, but it was really interesting and really cool.
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.