Eric Nystrom showed last week during the Wild About Children Event that he was born with the gift of gab. Just check out his skills with the microphone as he interviewed his teammates
as they served food and drinks to Wild fans at Pazzaluna in St. Paul. That made him the perfect candidate for the next Player Mailbag, where he could answer fan questions.
Of course, "Ny" was also born with some serious hockey genes, considering his father, Bob, is a four-time Stanley Cup winner as a part of the New York Islander dynasty.
But after hearing his answers to some great questions, we're not sure if we're more impressed with his Dad's hockey accomplishments, or his Mom's skills when it comes go creating gingerbread houses. Find out about that and much more below. Jacky, Austin
What goes through your mind when you face a former team?
It's definitely tough. The first time, I didn't like it too much. It's hard wanting to put one of your good friends through the end boards, but you've got to put that aside. Once the game gets going, you kind of forget about that. It was tough the first time, but that's out of the way now.
Every time I put a hard hit on one of my friends, they always swear at me or something, so that means I'm doing my job. Jerry, Edina
Have you always played a gritty, hard hitting game or were you more focused on offense earlier in your career?
I think I've always played the same style. At levels below the NHL, that game can translate into a little more offense. But at this level, guys are so big and so strong and the goalies are so good, that putting up offensive numbers is really hard to do. Obviously I still love scoring goals and getting in on the offense, but I really pride myself on being a tough player to play against. Josh, Rochester
Is there any special reason you wear number 23?
My first training camp in Calgary, that was the number they gave me. The team there was in numerical order and when I got number 23, it meant I had a pretty good shot at making the team so I was happy about that.
It also happens to be my dad's number, but my number was always 21 before that. Rebecca, White Bear LakeDid you ever play an outdoor game in college or the NHL, and would you want to again?
In college (at Michigan), I played in the original outdoor game at Spartan Stadium, which was a blast. It was amazing with 75,000 people. That was a really great hockey experience and I'm real fortunate to have played in that.
And then I played in the World Championships in Germany last year in an indoor soccer stadium, and that was just under 80,000. That was awesome! It was inside a dome, and it was two countries (United States and Germany) facing off. It was the record for an indoor game.
But nothing will top the outdoor game that happened this past weekend (at his alma mater at Michigan).Alex, HutchinsonWhy don't you wear a visor?
You know, it's just preference I guess. I've never really liked the way it felt. You have to clean it after every single shift, which is pretty annoying. And with my game, I'm pretty scrappy and sometimes you get in a little fisticuffs and guys that play that game don't really wear visors. I just never have. Sam, CloquetWhat's the most memorable goal you've ever scored?
There's been a few. I had a pretty big game-winner in the playoffs a couple years ago to tie the series up at the Saddledome, which was pretty amazing. It was late in the third period and we were down 2-1 in the series at the time. I scored the winner and the place just went crazy, which was awesome.
And obviously in college, there were a few big goals in some big games, especially at (Michigan's) Yost Arena, which is one of the best arenas around. Charles, DuluthI read you have four dogs. What breeds are they and who takes care of them when you're on the road?
I have three that I adopted via my girlfriend. She's had them for a few years, and she takes really good care of those things. They're human beings so they get top notch treatment.
We've got two Chiweenies, and a little tea cup chihuahua. I had a Vizsla that was about 60 pounds named Jake, and he just passed on. But he was the best dog ever.Mick, FarmingtonWhat type of workouts do you do to stay in shape?
During the season, it's more for maintenance. You play so many games, that it's hard to make gains in strength when you're playing so much. Some simple rowing and presses and pullups and single leg squats is always good just to maintain strength. Depending on how much you play, you might need to get on the bike and do some sprints.
In the offseason…you name it. It's sprints, weights, biking, long-distance running, Olympic lifting, flexibility. Sara, ShoreviewWho is the funniest guy on the team?
There are some good characters on this team. Clutter's a character for sure. Brodziak is pretty funny and I don't think he really even knows it. Madden has his moments. There's some real funny guys on this team. Bri, North St. PaulYou put on quite a show at the Flames jersey auction a couple years ago. Will we see a similar show here in Minny?
Editor's Note: To see what Bri is talking about, click here.
(laughs) Maybe after a big overtime winner.Kristina, Apple ValleyWhat is your favorite Christmas memory from your childhood?
Every year, my family would have a huge Christmas party and we'd have 30 to 40 people come over. My mom would make all the food from scratch and she would make a Gingerbread house every year.
One year, she did a replica of Radio City Music Hall. She did a replica of our house one year. She was really talented at that. Every year, when she started preparing for that, you knew that Christmas was right around the corner.
She actually entered some Gingerbread House contests and she always did pretty well. She made some amazing houses, I mean, legit like an exact model of our house. One year, she had our old golf country club with this mansion and she did a replica of that.
She's retired from that now, I think. She hung 'em up. Deb, Calgary, AlbertaWhat was it like to grow up with a famous hockey dad who won four Stanley Cups?
It's an honor. I sometimes just think about what he accomplished in his career, and it's amazing. People ask how many Cups he won, and I say, "Four," and they say "Four?!?!?!?!"
It's amazing to have a career like that. He just has such good advice. He sees the game so well and I'm just so lucky to have had someone like that growing up. To this day, he's so insightful, so I'm really lucky.
He's done everything. He was on the worst team in the League when the Islanders started. He saw them build teams and lose in huge playoff series and have huge letdowns. He's won and been on the top. He's been through injuries and slumps. So to have someone like that to lean on is very lucky.Seth, Cannon FallsWhat do you enjoy doing in the offseason?
I just train. I like to just train. I get really into that, and I'm big into fitness and healthy eating. That kind of consumes me in the offseason.
But just like anybody else, I like to have fun and hang out with my friends, going out and spending a night out on the town.Alyssa, North BranchWhat is your favorite thing to do on a plane for a road trip?
Oh, I watch DVD's. I try to bring four or five DVD's and see what's new out there and just watch movies. Maybe once in awhile I'll get in a card game, but I'm more of just a movie guy.Matt, PlymouthIf you could hang out with anybody in the world, past or present, who would it be?
Oh geez. I would take all my close friends, not just one person. I would take all my close friends and family and I'd build a street where we could all live on. We wouldn't have to be in different parts of the world and have time go by without seeing each other. I'd just build a street and have all my friends and family live on it and we'd all be close.Nick, PlymouthDo you ever ride a motorcycle? You've got a handlebar 'stache that makes the Hell's Angels look like Barney and Friends.
(laughs) Which has been recently shaved. No, no motorcycles for me. I don't think it's very good for the career. I've seen a lot of accidents. But the handlebar 'stache is gone, so I'll just stick with my truck.