Shootin’ Straight with Jeremy Roenick

I was blessed with the opportunity to meet 20-year NHL veteran Jeremy Roenick last week. When my cousin Dusty (who is an accomplished hockey player in his own right) called me on Tuesday night asking me if I’d like to meet Jeremy Roenick, I took about 0.8 seconds to say yes! So less than 24 hours later, I was in Jeremy’s hotel room in the Hyatt as part of an informal social gathering.

By the way, for the rest of this blog, I’m going to call Jeremy Roenick by his well-known moniker of “JR”…it’s easier to type and I’m sure he won’t mind. :p

The night started off rather auspiciously for me as I didn’t hear JR ask me what I did for a living (perhaps I was too busy tweeting that I was with JR…haha). But I did hear him say something like “We’ll start with this guy who seems to be ignoring me.”

Having a funny feeling he was speaking about me and to me, I sheepishly looked up and proclaimed: “I would NEVER, EVER intentionally ignore Jeremy Roenick!” This comment was met with a lot of laughter from other people in the room, and I was relieved to see JR smile. More importantly, I was thankful that he didn’t goon me while having an NHL flashback and thinking I was Derian Hatcher or Darcy Tucker.

I told him that I worked for the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, running an office that does ministry for and with young people. He commended me on doing noble work, and I felt a sense of pride.

Later on in the evening, I made some small talk with JR as I helped him return some chairs to his balcony. I asked him where he lives now (Scottsdale, Arizona) and I mentioned that I’ve been to Arizona numerous times, both for church events and to visit friends (who I met through these church events). This led to another quick discussion about my role as the YMO’s Director and he once again affirmed me for serving in a position that allows me to help others. I couldn’t surmise if JR was a Christian, but regardless he seemed genuinely interested in me and my work.

I then asked him: “Is it okay if I ask you a few hockey questions?”

“Sure.”

My first question was “How do you think the US Hockey Team will do in the Olympics?”

“Probably 4th or 5th,” he said, “behind Canada, Russia and the Czechs.”

“Wow,” I said, surprised, “but I won’t quote you on that.”

“Oh, you can if you want,” JR replied, “I’ve gone on record with my prediction. The forwards are good but they’re too young and too inexperienced. Miller (the goalie) will have to be at his absolute best for them to have a chance.”

“Thanks man…are you surprised at how well the Sedins are doing this year?”

JR answered “Not at all. They are remarkable players…especially Daniel.”

I found that answer interesting, considering Henrik is the one leading the NHL scoring race. I wasn’t sure if he was mixing them up, or if he truly wanted to single out Daniel. At any rate, I was thoroughly enjoying the conversation, and he was certainly living up to his reputation as a great interview (or in this case, conversation). All right…enough of the softies, I thought.

“What’s your take on this whole Burrows-Auger thing?”

JR replied, “I believe Burrows 100 percent. But he probably could have gone about it a different way, either through his coach or GM. But I believe him completely.” As we looked out at the city skyline from his 34th floor balcony, JR said “Auger’s ego is the size of this city.”

This was getting good. “So I’m presuming you’ve played in games where Auger was the referee?”

“For sure,” JR said. “And he’s the biggest BLEEP BLEEP and BLEEP BLEEP around.” (As I’m sure you can guess…he didn’t say the word “BLEEP”…there were other more colourful words in there; words that I would have to go to confession for saying).

I completely lost it and started laughing so hard that I thought I might fall over the railing and onto Burrard Street below. On one hand, JR’s response didn’t surprise me, as he’s known as one of the most outspoken players to ever play the game. On the other hand, it did surprise me a bit, considering our nice conversation about church just moments earlier.

We returned inside still laughing, and then took a couple of pictures: one of us arm in arm, the other featuring JR ready to unload a barrage of punches on me. I left soon afterwards grateful for the chance to meet him.

The next morning, the TEAM 1040 Radio station was going to have JR on as a guest. I emailed the TEAM, telling them that I had met JR the previous night, and I suggested that they ask JR for his opinions on the US Olympic Hockey team and on the Burrows-Auger incident. I also attached a picture of us as evidence (not that they cared).

Sure enough, they asked JR about both things, though it might have had nothing to do with my email…they could have been planning to ask him those types of questions anyway. Upon hearing his radio interview, it was nice knowing that he was indeed shooting straight with me, as his responses were very similar to the ones he gave me the night before.

Except for the swear words. Somehow those didn’t make it on the radio!

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