Living the Dream All
Star Milan Michalek couldn't have dreamt of a better season in
Ottawa. By Tab Bamford | Photography by Claude Belanger
into the 2011-12 season, Ottawa's Milan Michalek was
best known for being the centerpiece in the trade that
sent Dany Heatley to San Jose. But the sixth overall
pick in the great 2003 Draft has quietly become one of
the most productive players from that loaded class,
reaching the 20-goal mark in five of his seven NHL
Now among the NHL leaders in goals and having been
voted a starter in the 2012 All-Star Game -- played in
Ottawa, nonetheless -- Michalek is coming into his own
as a legitimate superstar.
caught up with the 27-year-old left wing between
games to talk about his breakout season, being
an All Star, and some things he just can't leave
You've been in Ottawa now for three seasons, but
this has been your best by far. What's about
this season is different for you?
I think it's the new coach, new system, and
everything kind of came together. I'm healthy,
too, which is a big thing. I've been injured the
last couple years, but this year I feel great
and everything is good. I hope I stay healthy,
and [Jason] Spezza and Erik Karlsson help me a
In December you missed five games because of a
concussion that happened on an innocent play.
How comfortable are you and your teammates with
the new protocols that have been put in place by
the NHL regarding head injuries?
I think we're just trying to take away as many
risks as we can. It is what it is; everybody has
to do it. It's your head, so you really can't
mess around. I like what the league does with it
now and hopefully it can improve even more.
What did it mean to you to represent the Sens on
your ice in Ottawa at the All Star Game this
It was something special for me, a dream come
true. I enjoyed it so much. My whole family came
and it was so nice to have it be the entire
weekend. And to be in the locker room with
unbelievable players... I can't thank the fans
enough for voting me in. It was so much fun --
I'll never forget it.
Was playing in the All Star Game something guys
talked about early on this year knowing it was
being played at your rink?
No, we really didn't talk about it before. We
just knew going into training camp that [the All
Star Game] was in Ottawa but we never really
talked about it as a team.
What you get away from the ice, what are some
things you do to unwind and get away from hockey
for a bit?
I like to play PlayStation when I'm at home --
FIFA Soccer -- and I love to watch soccer on TV,
too. We relax and hang out at home when there
aren't games or practices, I just be quiet at
home. With the weather [in Ottawa] you can't
really do much outside some times, too.
Are there one or two
creature comforts you can't live without on the road?
My iPad for sure and my phone.
Obviously the iPad is great from an entertainment perspective, but it's
also become a great coaching and educational tool. How has having that
with you helped your game grow?
It's a lot better than carrying books around or DVDs, you can have
everything in there at once and it's so small. It's great to take on the
road, and almost everyone on the team has one now.
Finally, the Sens have an interesting roster this year. Half the roster is
under the age of 25, and the other half is over 30, with you and Jason
Spezza in the middle. How have you guys been able to build chemistry as a
team this year?
We had some young guys coming into the season, but we had some veteran
guys, too. We all are trying to compete, and [including Spezza and I] we
have a lot of guys just coming into our prime. We try to work hard every
game and be leaders, too.