Steven Stamkos: 'I was in a Jolly Jumper...'

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos recalls his finest minor hockey memories, including his obessesion with mini sticks.

Steven Stamkos is a 19 year-old forward from Markham, Ont. He was selected 1st overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The former Sarnia Sting player recorded 23 goals in his first NHL season.  Stamkos won a gold medal at the 2008 World Junior Championship and represented Canada in the 2009 Men's World Hockey Championships in Switzerland.

CBC How did you get into hockey?

Stamkos: "Growing up in Canada, everyone idolizes hockey. My dad played and he introduced me to the game, I was in the Jolly Jumper when I was…who knows how old. I always had a mini stick in my hands. I would get out on the frozen ponds in the winter so it was something I fell in love with right away. It was something I’m glad I had brought into my life."


CBC What was the first game you remember playing?

Stamkos: "I have got a pretty good memory actually. When I was playing house league… Rick Tocchet, our head coach in Tampa, his brother was our coach and I think it was during the '95 lockout and Rick came out. He was playing with us and refereed our game. Pretty funny considering he’s my coach now. Ha ha. That was a pretty good memory I have."


CBC Who is the funniest teammate you’ve ever had? Why?

Stamkos: "I think Colby Armstrong, who I just played with in the world championships. He was a really funny guy and he’s a great guy for the room. He’s always got a smile on his face and doing stupid stuff in the dressing room. It makes the guys smile and was a pretty good experience getting to meet him and play with him at the worlds."


CBC What was the most memorable tournament you ever played in?

Stamkos: "Probably the world junior championship. As a kid, you’re always watching that at Christmas and to get a chance to win a gold medal was a life long dream of mine. To do it at a young age was pretty special and to share that opportunity with guys like Luke Schenn and Drew Doughty, who I’ve grown up with, is pretty cool."


CBC What was the worst arena you ever played at?

Stamkos: "Worst arena I’ve ever played at…I don’t know, St. Mikes might be up there, it was one of the worst. No, I actually liked playing there. For NHL standards, Pittsburgh is pretty bad. The visitors dressing room… you don’t get the feeling you’re in the NHL. It’s pretty dungy but they’ve got a new one coming up."


CBC Where was the coldest game you’ve ever played? Can you describe it?

Stamkos: "Coldest game? It would definitely be sometime out on the pond in minor hockey at seven in the morning. Actually the under-17 tournament was up in Whitehorse so it was pretty cold, minus 40 or 50. The ice was pretty good though but it was cold."


CBC Who was the most memorable hockey parent you’ve ever met? Why?

Stamkos: "Probably my parents. Especially my dad, he was the one who introduced the game to me and dedicated a lot of time and money into the game. My minor hockey coach, Paul Titanic, was a big influence on me. He’s one that I really thank today for making me a better player and person off the ice as well. My dad and former coach, Paul, for sure."