Unsurprisingly, the outspoken NHL on NBC analyst still has no regrets.
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How would you compare the style of play now to when you were in the league?
It’s not as tough or as physically brutal as it was back in the late '80s and early '90s. Having the instigator rule, fighting is down and it has taken away the responsibility aspect of the game. With that, I think the game is faster and players are more talented now. I think the game is stronger health-wise, but it’s just not as mean as it used to be.
You've done some insane things to play hockey, like removing the wire that was holding your mouth shut, in order to play in a game. Do you ever regret putting your body on the line the way you did?
Never. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change one thing. Over the course of my career, I had 13 concussions and 800 stitches in my face. I broke my jaw twice - once in 28 different places - but I wouldn’t change a thing that I did or how I played.
If you were a GM, which young player would you trade for right now?
If I started a team, Jonathan Toews would be my first pick all the way around. Then either Tuukka Rask or Jonathan Quick. Those would be my first choices of anyone in the league right now.
You have done a lot of different jobs, most recently in TV, but what is your dream job in the NHL?
I would love to run a team. I never got to win the Cup while playing, so I would love to try to win a Cup while building a team, and running a team. Being president of a team would be my dream job. Because of my relationships and my hockey knowledge, I think I would be extremely good at that position.
Your mention in Swingers is pretty legendary and you are known as one of the best video game athletes of all time. Do you still play the current NHL games?
I don’t play video games, but the '94 Sega Genesis game is one of my claims to fame. That is the one thing that is said to me most often in the course of a day, a week, or month. I think a lot of it has to do with Vince Vaughn. Vince was a fan of mine growing up in Chicago. When he did Swingers, that movie and scene became part of pop culture, and a lot of people related to it. It’s been very cool.
Which player would you say is most underrated in the game today?
I’m going to say Jakub Voracek or Wayne Simmonds from Philadelphia. I don’t think they get enough credit for how good they are, how hard they work, and their production. They should get a lot more attention than they really do.
Why do you think it's so hard to put away a team like the Kings?
The Kings have one of the best goaltenders in the game. They play a system that is perfectly suited for the players they have on their roster. When you have a guy like Jonathan Quick in your net, your team thinks it can win every game. When you have a big, strong, fast team that works hard, they are going to be a hard out for any team. Their confidence is just overwhelming.
How much of the playoffs is dependent on gaining the kind of momentum the Rangers and Canadiens have?
I think momentum is overrated. Momentum can swing south just as fast as your game. What you have at one game, you can’t have at the next. I think confidence is a part of momentum, but confidence is way more important than feeling momentum. If you are confident, you are going to make good plays. You are not going to make good plays because of momentum.
Prediction for who will win the Conn Smythe?
If the Kings win, I think either Gaborik or Kopitar win it. New York would be Lundqvist.
Are you and Mike Milbury ever going to drop the gloves?
[Laughs] Maybe. The day that we do, you know I’ve already got a new job. When you see only one of us still standing at the podium, whether it be him or whether it be me, you’ll know I have a new job.
Follow JR on Twitter at @Jeremy_Roenick or on his website www.RoenickLife.com.
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