This article appears in the January issue of Wild Magazine.
Welcome to Off the Ice, where we sit down with Wild players to learn more about their lives away from the rink. This month, we chat with Chris Stewart about his return to Minnesota, life as an NHL journeyman and his work with Twin Cities youth.
Wild.com: After a year with Minnesota and then Anaheim, you returned to the Wild this year. What was it about this state and team that drew you back?
Chris Stewart: For me personally, I'm big on family. This is a first-class organization and I'm very family oriented. The year before, I had another opportunity to come back but it didn't end up working out. I've always kind of had these guys in the back of my mind and I really enjoyed my first stint here. It was an easy decision. The weather here is perfect for hockey. There's something just a little weird about Anaheim when you're coming out of the rink in February and it's 30 [degrees Celsius] outside.
W: Throughout your NHL career, you've spent time with many different teams in different cities. What was it like to live in all those different places and to move quite frequently?
CS: For me, it's easy. It's a little harder on the family and the wife, who's been orchestrating all these moves all the way around the country. But it's been good. We get to experience different cities and cultures and you meet a lot of great people along the way, so that's a bonus.
W: We've heard that Philadelphia's Wayne Simmonds is a close childhood friend of yours. Could you tell us a bit about that friendship and how you stay in touch?
CS: Yeah, me and Wayne probably met about 15 years old. We've been training every summer together since. He was in my wedding, he's a godfather to my oldest son and he's one of my best friends. We push each other away from the rink and we probably talk daily, if not on the phone, then through text messages and group texts and stuff like that. We keep each other in check often.
W: What is your favorite part about raising your family in Minnesota, and do your kids like it here?
CS: The kids are busy every day, they're full-time. They've got skating lessons, swimming, they go to my gym and places, so they're busier than me. They love hockey. It's crazy. We wake up in the morning and I give my son my phone, and he's on the Wild app listening to Bruce [Boudreau] talk. It gets kind of scary. They love Nordy, too. That's all I hear at home: "Nordy, Daddy, Nordy!"
W: What are some of your favorite things to do in your free time and during the offseason?
CS: During the year, fantasy football is big for me. I just lost to Mikko [Koivu] in the semifinals, so my season's done. I'm gonna have to find a new hobby now. I like football, enjoying my Sundays and days off. Besides that, we've got the two kids and we're just really busy with our boys, to be honest. In the offseason, I've got a big family back home, so I take the time to visit my sisters and my cousins, my little nieces and nephews. I'm away for nine, 10 months out of the year, so when I do get home, it's nice just to be around family.
W: Tell me about your charity work and the causes you support.
CS: We've been doing the suite for HopeKids and hosting them, picking up their food and giving them the chance to watch the game. I've been working with HOPE 4 Youth, which is a shelter that took in 12 kids here. They just built a new facility and they needed a washer and dryer, so my wife and I both donated the washer and dryer. We ended up going over there [to Anoka] and dropping off some gifts for the kids. We got in touch with EA Sports and they donated an Xbox and a bunch of games. It was huge. Whenever I get the chance to do my part in the community, I like to help out.