Off the Ice with Kevin Weekes

4/1/2008

Recently I was able to screen New Jersey Devils goaltender Kevin Weekes long enough to ask him a few questions about life off the ice as an NHL player and what it’s like to have played for all three Metro Area teams, among other things. Weekes is now with his seventh franchise (Florida, Vancouver, NY Islanders, Tampa Bay, Carolina, NY Rangers & New Jersey) in his ninth NHL season, and the 32-year-old is currently two wins shy of his 100th victory. This season he became just the seventh player (third goalie) to ever suit up for the Devils, New York Islanders and the New York Rangers. Perhaps his best season was in 2003-04 when he appeared in a career-high 66 games with the Carolina Hurricanes, with 23 wins, six shutouts and posted a career-best 2.33 goals-against average. He also became just the second netminder (Curtis Joseph) in NHL history to improve his goals-against average six consecutive seasons. This season as Martin Brodeur’s partner in New Jersey, work has been few and far between, but you would never know it by seeing and talking to Weekes – who is always smiling and upbeat, exuding coolness, and as his teammates have said on numerous occasions, he is the ultimate team guy. Recently, Weekes and NHL legend/pioneer Willie O’Ree appeared on the hit TV comedy ‘Everybody Hates Chris,’ in an episode that aired last week; for those that want to view the scene, can do so by clicking here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ueVOAWkEcvQ. So who is Kevin Weekes off the ice? Read on:

Dan Rice: What’s it been like being partnered with Martin Brodeur this season?

Kevin Weekes: It’s been a lot of fun, even though obviously I haven’t played as much as I would’ve liked, but at the same time it’s a great organization and Marty and I get along really well. We have a great chemistry between the two of us and that always makes things more enjoyable. When you get a chance to play with a guy you have admired, and being younger than him, aspiring to play as many games as him and all that he’s accomplished in the game, it’s pretty unique; to play with a guy that you have that much respect for.

DR: Favorite NHL city that you’ve played in?

KW: I’d probably have to say Toronto, just because I’m from there and that city means so much to me and I played my minor hockey there. Outside of Toronto, I’d say Montreal and Minnesota is close too — it’s an unbelievable environment, a great hockey state and their atmosphere there is incredible.

DR: Who’s been the best roommate that you have had over your career?

KW: Tough question, because the fact I’m a goalie, I’ve had my own room for so many years now. Going back, when I was younger and first came into the league I’d have to say Brad May (in Vancouver). He treated me really well, especially since I was a younger guy.

DR: What’s been your favorite hockey memory so far?

KW: Making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002 (with Carolina), unfortunately we lost to Detroit, but you fulfill a childhood dream – actually making it to the Stanley Cup, all those road hockey games, they all seem worth it. It was just a great experience; I hope to be able to get back there someday and hopefully win one. But if not, I can always say that I made the Stanley Cup Finals.

DR: What’s your favorite team in another sport?

KW: It used to be the Chicago Bulls, for obvious reasons. Golf isn’t usually a team sport; otherwise I’d say ‘Team Tiger’ (smiling). With the Bulls, it was because of Michael (Jordan), but unfortunately he’s retired; probably growing up that was my favorite sports team.

DR: Do you have any superstitions?

KW: Not so much, probably more of a routine than anything. You stay as strict as possible as you can, in terms of sticking to it. But then again, as you get older there’s different variables too, that come into your life. You evolve into, a man; maybe a husband, a father, you know, different roles. I’m pretty strict with my routine and I try to stay with it as much as possible.

DR: Who would you say is the biggest jokester on the team?

KW: They (my teammates) would probably say me (grinning); I would probably say John Madden.

DR: Talk about what your experience has been like with the Devils, Islanders & Rangers.

KW: The Islanders, at the time, when I played it was a good situation because it was a young team, with a super-cheap payroll. We were all just kind of getting a chance to play in the league. The experience of playing there was pretty good; obviously they have a lot of loyal fans – so that was neat. The Rangers experience was a little bit different because it was an Original 6 team. All the history of that organization, to be playing at MSG, it was a unique experience; I had never played for an Original 6 team. My experience in New Jersey so far has been that – I come into the best building in the league, and this has been one of the premier (if not THE premier) organizations in the past 15 years. There are a lot of great hockey fans here obviously and the attendance has been even better than anticipated after the move (from the Meadowlands to Newark). As I was saying to somebody earlier, you really can’t go wrong playing (hockey) in this area. It’s like Mercedes, BMW, Audi, you know what I mean? That’s the way I look at it — it’s just your brand of choice. But they’re all fine quality, either way you really can’t go wrong.

DR: Do you have a best friend in the NHL?

KW: My best friend didn’t play this year, but he’s been in the league for ten years, I’d say Anson Carter. We grew up together in Toronto and both of our parents are from Barbados.

DR: Can you talk a bit about your recent TV appearance and how that experience was for you?

KW: It was neat, it was fun. It’s like when people in other fields and other jobs have the opportunity to maybe come out and skate with us, play celebrity games or practice. They share our stage, so we were sharing their stage, so to speak. Some of the guys have been fortunate enough to take batting practice with the New York Mets and the Toronto Blue Jays back home. It’s nice because you get to experience what their reality is like. For me that was the case; I’ve done it a few times and it’s been fun. I look at it as a unique experience, but more importantly those are the kind of things that are good for our sport. It helps to show people more sides of us as players and people, opposed to what they see on the ice with our helmets, with us goalies, having our masks on. So we get to show more of ourselves and I think it’s good for the game. The more guys have a chance to do those things, the better our league will be.

DR: Do you have a favorite TV show?

KW: I’d say all-time, probably The Jefferson’s because I love George Jefferson.

DR: Favorite movie?

KW: Oh man, there’s so many; I’ll say Coming to America. Cinderella Man was good too, great story.

DR: What kind of music can be found on your iPod these days?

KW: I’d surprise everybody, it’s pretty eclectic. My dad is a big music lover; I grew up in a musical household. I like everything man, from old school Earth, Wind & Fire, Gap Band, old school Prince, Mary J, Biggie, even country. It’s a pretty wide range; I like all types of music — the country may surprise some people. That would throw some people for a loop in my situation.

DR: You’re one of the few NHL players that has his own website (www.kevinweekes1.com), can you talk a little about that?

KW: It’s neat, I think it’s a platform where, obviously in our sport everything is very team-oriented, it’s very conservative and we all know that. At the same time, there are more dimensions to us as people and players that unfortunately people don’t get to see. We get to see that because we are around each other, but for people that don’t have that access; they don’t get to see that. I’m just trying to use that platform to connect with people and give a little bit of yourself to the fans of the game. I would’ve gone crazy if any of my goalies that I liked, if Grant Fuhr had his own site or whoever had their own site. At that time we didn’t have that type of direct access to them. Creatively, I’ll have a little more input going forward, but content-wise, I have the final say. I want it to have more of a look and feel that is, me (smiling). Something that is fan-friendly and easy to navigate for people, something that people want to come to, you know.

I hope everyone enjoyed learning more about Kevin Weekes and if there is a player you’d like to read about in a future column or have a question you want asked or you have a comment, please let me know:

Dan Rice covers the New Jersey Devils & NHL for NYCSportsnetwork.com & contributes to MaxHockey.com as well as IslesNation.com. He can be reached at drdiablo321@yahoo.com.

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