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Magazine > Athlete
As seen in the March/April 2012 issue.

Living the Dream
All Star Milan Michalek couldn't have dreamt of a better season in Ottawa.
By Tab Bamford | Photography by Claude Belanger

Heading 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 seasons.

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.

TFP 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 home without.

Q: 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?

A: 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 lot, too.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

Q: What did it mean to you to represent the Sens on your ice in Ottawa at the All Star Game this year?

A: 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.

Q: Was playing in the All Star Game something guys talked about early on this year knowing it was being played at your rink?

A: 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.

Q: What you get away from the ice, what are some things you do to unwind and get away from hockey for a bit?

A: 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.

Q: Are there one or two creature comforts you can't live without on the road?

A: My iPad for sure and my phone.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

Q: 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?

A: 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.

For more stories from the Mar/Apr 2012 issue of The Fourth Period Magazine, pick up a copy or subscribe today.


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