It feels good to be back home.
Not that I’ve ever fully left Minnesota. But man, does it feel good to officially be back, back. There really is no better feeling.
OK, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups was a pretty great feeling, too. That excitement never goes away. Raising the Cup over my head this year felt just as good as it did the first time I did it with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006. There’s nothing like it. I never believed I’d be so fortunate in my career to not win the Cup just once, but three times now. Each team had its own special journey. I think when you learn to appreciate the path and the journey more than the outcome, that’s when it becomes truly meaningful.
And I think there is another chance at the Cup here with the Minnesota Wild.
I know I’m no young pup anymore. But I know I can still play, and I know I still love to compete. That’s what helped make my decision to come back for another 82-game grind of an NHL season at the age of 40.
But joining the Wild for a second time around offered me so much more than the chance to play the game for another year. It gave me the chance to give my kids the Minnesota Hockey experience. Having three boys (Brooks, 10; Wyatt, 8; Joey, 7) that love the game of hockey as much as me makes it a lot easier to continue to playing. I know that every day they’re at a game is the best day of their life, so I want to continue to be able to give them that opportunity.
I grew up at the rink. My dad taught high school hockey in Moorhead, and I loved being able to spend time with him on and off the ice. As a professional hockey player I’ve been able to give that to my kids too (though they might be getting a skewed view of what hockey is really like with the recent wins). They love going into the locker room and hanging out with all the guys. To them, those guys are family, just like they are to me.
And now it’s time to let the kids plant some roots and settle down at home. Like it is for me, Minnesota is home to them, too, and it’s a great scenario that I can be able to play in the NHL, and be home, too.
It’s fun to see hockey come full circle. Now I get to watch my kids grow up in Minnesota Hockey and get to watch them develop a love for the game right here in the State of Hockey. There’s truly nothing like it. I know, I’ve seen it in different cities and I can say without a doubt, the community-based model we are lucky enough to have here in Minnesota is the best way to develop not only talent, but a passion for the game. Coming up from youth through high school with your friends, I absolutely love it. It’s a unique situation to grow up in your hometown and play with the same group of kids, and I’m so excited to give that to my kids.
See you on the ice, Minnesota. I’m happy to be back.