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Rock ’n Rolston

by Staff Writer / Minnesota Wild
 In his first season with the Wild, Brian Rolston leads the team in scoring with 22 points.
Look at that picture of Brian Rolston. What’s the first thought that comes to your mind as you stare into his eyes?

Probably not dark heavy metal or punk rock. But Brian Rolston is more than just a smooth skating sniper for your Minnesota Wild. Deep down, he’s also a tumultuous combination of Jimi Hendrix, Ringo Starr and David Lee Roth, waiting for this career to come to an end so he can move on to flourish in his own rock band and take the world by storm.

OK, so that’s a stretch.

“I never had my own band or anything, and I’m probably not good enough for anything like that,” said Rolston. “It’s something that I enjoy. I started with the drums and now play the guitar a little bit. It’s just something that you use when you’re away from the game. It’s fun, something I’ve always enjoyed.”

Bob Dylan and Prince need not worry about the free agent from Boston stealing any of their Minnesota thunder…at least not away from the ice. For now, Rolston is happy bringing his wicked shot and blazing speed to the Minnesota Wild. But he has had his turn on stage with the spotlight shining brightly on his face.

“Dropkick Murphy’s, a huge Boston punk band, asked [Bruins defenseman] Nick Boynton and I to play with them. We learned one of their songs and played with them after one of the Bruins games. They actually set up a stage and everything. It was pretty cool.”

His music collection is much like his slap shot.  In a word:  HARD. Garth Brooks and Shania Twain?  Uh, no thank you.
“I like Green Day, Audioslave, Metallica…anything alternative. That’s my speed.”

But his number one all-time favorite band? He answers without hesitation...Pearl Jam.

“Yeah, absolutely. Probably all-time best band. They were just kind of my generation.”

 With three young boys at home, Rolston probably doesn’t get the chance to hone his guitar skills very much.
But one of the newest faces in the Wild lineup isn’t just about hockey and music. His vibe runs much deeper. Word is he’s going for the newest version of the Partridge Family. He and his wife, Jennifer, are proud parents to three boys.

“I have three sons. Ryder actually turned four on Halloween, two-year-old Brody and Stone is eight months. We have three boys and it’s pretty busy for my wife, especially when I’m on the road.”

Three boys all under the age of four with the best still to come. Have you picked out a nice silver minivan yet for the 6 AM hockey practices and the never-ending trips to and from soccer games?

“Everybody asks me what I’m going to do when I’m done with hockey and that’s probably what I’ll be doing. Being a limo driver for them. It’s fun though.”

The best part is the fact that his oldest is starting to understand what daddy does, and is getting a chance to enjoy his chosen profession.

“My four year old comes to every game and it’s the end all, be all for him. It is fun to have him understand what I do and to be a part of it. I think he thinks it’s normal that you get to come down to the locker room after the games. It’s a great time right now.”

Family has been big for Rolston even before he started his own. Back before he was worried about baby cribs, pacifiers and strained carrots, he was the baby of the family.

“I have two older brothers and an older sister. Both of my older brothers played hockey and were very successful. They kind of paved the way for me. I learned from their mistakes and (learned) from the positive things that they did in their careers. It was good being the last one in the family coming up and seeing what’s the right thing to do.  By the time it got to me, we had a good idea at that point.”

Rolston played two years at Lake Superior State where his brother Ron was then an assistant coach. In his freshman year, Lake State went 30-9-4 and beat the Wisconsin Badgers, 5-3, in the NCAA title game. Rolston scored the game-winner. That was in 1992. By 1995, he earned a spot on Jacques Lemaire’s New Jersey Devils and once again fate awarded him with another championship — this time the coveted Stanley Cup. 

“I’ve been very fortunate to win a national championship and a Stanley Cup already,” reflected Rolston. “I think when my career is over I’ll look back at my accomplishments and say that was a pretty great thing.”

 Rolston hopes to wear the Red, White and Blue once again this February in Italy.
Rolston has also spent a lot of time over the years working with Team USA on both the junior and national team level. On a national stage, he competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, and followed that up in 2002 with a Silver Medal in the Salt Lake City games. His Olympic experience is a source of pride that he hopes continues this February in Italy.

“It means a lot to be a two-time Olympian and possibly three this year. I’ve represented my country since I was like 16 playing in the World Junior Championships and things like that. It’s been a huge part of my development to get a chance to play for those teams. Having a silver medal, it’s an amazing thing. It’s going to be nice to look back on those memories.”

In his pro career, Rolston started in New Jersey and followed that with a brief stop in Colorado before moving on to a more solid role in Boston. And after four full seasons with the Bruins, he wound up signing as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild. So with 736 games under his belt in parts of 10 seasons with three of the more established teams in the league, Rolston suddenly finds himself in the Land of 10,000 Lakes trying to help his new team reach the next level. 

From the sounds of it, he couldn’t be happier.

“The crowd here and the fans are just absolutely spectacular. You just don’t see it hardly anywhere else in the league. There’s very few markets that are like this. There’s a group of hockey fans in the country that support the game but in Minnesota it’s something special. They’re there on their feet every game.”

“You just can’t beat it, you really can’t.”

High praise coming from the world’s next Ringo Starr.
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