How was the first day of the road tour?
Erik Haula: It was a great fan turnout. There were a lot of smiles around us and it felt good to give back to the community.
Stephane Veilleux: It was amazing. It's surprising that you can go into small towns and people have done so much for our arrival. It's great that we can feel involved in the community.
Was it fun to see some of the Iowa Wild fans that came out after spending some time in Des Moines this season?
Haula: Absolutely. It's nice to go back in an area where you've played and are familiar with and can see fans that have cheered for you. It's also cool to see how hockey has grown in the community.
Veilleux: This is a place I spent time during the season, so giving back to them has extra special meaning because they gave so much support to me during the regular season.
How do you think the Wild’s AHL team impacted hockey fans in Iowa?
Haula: It keeps growing the game because it's always different to have a junior team or a pro team. It's hopefully given them a better understanding of the game because it's a higher level of hockey with great competition.
Veilleux: It makes a big impact to Des Moines. You can watch on TV and follow along, and more so, they can follow along as players grow in their careers and will remember them watching them in Iowa after they make it to the NHL.
Erik, you played junior hockey in the USHL against teams in both Des Moines and Waterloo. Do you think the game has grown in those areas since that time?
The USHL keeps getting bigger and more popular, drawing more players from around the world and drawing more fans to it as well.
Are you planning on getting workouts in while you’re on the Tour? If so, why not just take a couple of days off?
Veilleux: I plan to workout. Not every day because I worked out hard over the last three weeks and am giving my body a rest but will workout tomorrow morning.
Haula: My season went a little longer than normal with the World Championships but I'm starting to ramp it up here over the next couple of months. Definitely, if we can find the time it will be nice to get a little active.
What was your favorite part so far, outside of the Tour stops? I know you guys did just take on some skilled Waterloo kids in street hockey.
Haula: I really liked playing street hockey with the kids and didn't want to stop.
Veilleux: I enjoyed bowling at Cadillac Lanes and winning both games. Laaksonen was joking that my form looked more like a basketball player, but apparently that's the winning form.
What do you do on the bus between stops to help pass the time?
Haula: I'm in charge of Redbox selections and also lead the way in making fun of Steph.
Veilleux: Watching movies (starting off with 3 Days to Kill) has been fun, along with working on my poker game with Erik. We have a good group of people so it's been nice just to talk, too.