This story appears in the February issue of Wild Magazine.
In the Wild's 10 games since his trip to the 2018 NHL All-Star Game last month in Tampa, Eric Staal hasn't slowed any, playing at a point-per-game pace and continuing to lead the club in goals (26), points (53) and shots (158).
It's the product of successfully juxtaposing a strict training regimen with raising sons Levi, Parker and Finley. Being able to spend some quality time with his family was a prime reason Staal relished his fifth All-Star appearance. Balancing a career with long road trips and strange hours with family life isn't always easy -- and the sunny Florida weather, a far cry from winter in Minnesota, was just an added bonus.
Wild.com's Kayleigh Jackson sat down with Staal to discuss family, favorite memories and food.
Kayleigh Jackson: How do you balance hockey and your family life away from the rink?
Eric Staal: Whenever I have the opportunity to spend time with the family or make something work as a group, as a family, to try and make that happen - our schedule is pretty compact and busy throughout the hockey season. My wife does do a lot, so whenever there's that off day or opportunity to maybe take the kids somewhere fun, we try to take advantage of that because during the course of a hockey season that can be hard to do.
KJ: Are the boys really getting into hockey on their own yet?
ES: My two older ones play minor hockey here in the Cities and so whenever I can be at their practice or their game, I love it. I enjoy just watching them and kind of reliving a little bit of my childhood and reliving growing up in that atmosphere and seeing them go through it. It's pretty fun just being at the rink and just being a hockey dad just like everybody else that does it, it's pretty special.
KJ: What's one of your favorite memories from growing up in that environment?
ES: Having three brothers and being outside and playing at the outdoor rink is probably the biggest memory and most satisfying memory that I have growing up. We spent a lot of time outside and together and there's something about being outside in the fresh air playing hockey -- people that have done it and people that know what that's like and understand that feeling know those are memories and special things you always keep.
KJ: What's your favorite thing to do in the Twin Cities?
ES: For me, because all three of my kids are at the perfect age to enjoy it, there's an indoor park called Edinborough Park [in Edina] -- I just kind of get to sit and watch -- they've dragged me up there a few times but there's a ton of slides and kind of a jungle gym play area so we spend time there. They love it and I enjoy watching them enjoy it. In the summertime, there's another park we always frequent, the Chutes and Ladders in Bloomington, and it's a ton of fun with the kids.
KJ: On fun days like that, what's your ultimate cheat meal?
ES: Probably a good burger and fries. Just every once in a while, those are always a nice treat. You don't feel great afterward but at the time, it's always good going down.
KJ: Tampa's definitely a nice getaway, but where's your dream vacation destination?
ES: I've never been to Hawaii so I would love to, at some point, go out there and just enjoy being out there. It's supposed to be pretty awesome so it'd be on my list of places I want to go.