|ESPN.com: NHL||[Print without images]|
|Fast Facts -- Eric Staal|
• Led all NHL players in points (22) in October.
• Started playing hockey at age 4 on an outdoor rink built by his father.
• Second overall pick in the 2003 NHL entry draft.
• First cousin Jeff Heerema (OTT) drafted 11th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft by the Hurricanes.
• During the lockout, he played an entire season with Lowell (AHL), establishing franchise records for points (77), plus/minus (plus-37) and shorthanded goals (seven).
• Favorite musical group is Linkin Park.
Q: If I were to tell you a year ago that one month into the NHL season you would be leading the league in points, what would you say [Staal is now tied for second overall with 26 points]? A: I would probably chuckle. Our whole hockey team has started well and that's a big part of my individual success. For me, just another year of developing and becoming stronger and more confident has helped me get more comfortable to try new things on the ice. Before, I would just skate down and shoot because I was afraid of getting yelled at for doing something. I think I'm just more confident on the ice and it's just snowballing into the way I'm playing right now. Q: You spent the lockout playing for Lowell in the AHL. From a lifestyle standpoint, what's the biggest difference between playing in the AHL and NHL? A: There's a big difference. In the NHL, you're flying on chartered jets; in the AHL, you're riding the bus. The NHL is the best league in the world with the best players, and being up here is unbelievable. It's where you want to stay. Q: You were named the NHL player of the week for Oct. 24-30, what do you get for that? A: I have to buy lunch for the boys on the team, that's what I get to do now [laughs]. I have no idea if they give you anything specific -- they haven't yet -- but it was a great honor. Q: Through October, you're on pace to collect 164 points this season. Knowing that, what's your individual goal this year? A: I don't have any specific goals. I don't know if I'm going to get 160 points. I just want to contribute offensively as much as I can to help our team score goals; that's my main focus. Q: You turned 21 on Oct. 29. That night, you had a career-high four assists against Mario and the Pens. What was that like? A: That was awesome. We were down 3-1 going into the third period, and we just came back and everything was clicking. The power play came up with some big goals, and to be able to get four assists against them was something special. I'll remember my 21st birthday for that for the rest of my life. Q: Now that you're 21, you're legal in the States. Have you put your first order in for Molson Canadian? A: [Laughs] Yeah, we came back from Pittsburgh and I actually went out for a beer with my dad and a couple of the other players and their dads, it was fun. The drinking age is 19 back in Ontario, but it's 21 here, so now I'm legal everywhere. David Amber is an anchor for ESPN and a contributor to ESPN.com.